The application window for businesses to be part of cohort 4, the latest cohort, of the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) regulatory sandbox is open until January 31. Businesses such as authorized firms, unauthorized firms that require authorization and technology businesses can apply to each cohort of the FCA’s sandbox.

To qualify for the sandbox, firms need to meet the FCA’s Eligibility Criteria, which includes standards such as whether or not the innovation appears to be intended for the UK market and if it will lead to a better deal for consumers. Firms that meet the Eligibility Criteria will need to complete the sandbox application form and submit it to the FCA by email.

Once accepted by the FCA into each cohort of the sandbox, businesses are allowed to test innovative products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in the real market, with real customers. The sandbox seeks to provide firms with:

  1. the ability to test products and services in a controlled environment;
  2. reduced time-to-market at potentially lower costs;
  3. support with identifying appropriate consumer protection safeguards to build into new products and services; and
  4. better access to finance.

The sandbox offers tools such as restricted authorization, individual guidance, informal steers, waivers and no enforcement action letters.

After January 31, the FCA will assess each sandbox application against the FCA’s Eligibility Criteria before deciding to accept the applications.

The FCA’s webpage on the sandbox is available here.

The FCA’s Eligibility Criteria for the sandbox is available here.