The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed which companies will begin testing their applications in the second cohort of its regulatory sandbox. The initiative, which started in 2014, seeks to encourage competition in the UK financial service sector by allowing businesses to test services, products, business models, and delivery mechanisms. According to the FCA, 77 firms applied but only 31 were approved for cohort two. This is a larger ratio than in the first cohort which, having concluded in October 2016, had a total of 69 applicants and 24 approvals. Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, stated that this is the result of the initiative attracting increased attention.
“The sandbox continues to grow in popularity and it is particularly encouraging that both the number of firms applying and accepted for testing has increased in cohort two. That means more innovative firms, trialling more innovative propositions to bring to the market. This is an important part of the FCA’s commitment to promoting innovation and competition in the markets we regulate.”
According to the FCA, the second cohort has increased its regional engagement due to a higher percentage of regional firms being approved from emerging FinTech hubs for cohort two. Furthermore, the FCA revealed it has experienced more diversity with this cohort, as more firms were approved from multiple sectors such as wholesale, general insurance, payments, and retail banking and lending. Of the 31 approved, nine companies are actively using blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) for their business purposes.
- BlockEx: BlockEx wishes to test a bond origination, private placement, and lifecycle management platform based on DLT.
- Diberse: A blockchain-based service provider that distributes and tracks development and humanitarian finance.
- Nivaura: This company’s focus is on automating the primary issuance and administration of financial assets through a centralized system or a blockchain infrastructure.
- Nuggets: A consumer blockchain application that gives users a single biometric tool for login, payment, and identity verification, without sharing or storing private data.
- OKLink: A money remittance service that combines domestic e-money transfers on its cross-border blockchain settlement system.
- Oraclize: An e-money platform based on DLT that turns digital identity cards into secure digital wallets through the use of executable distributed code contracts and fiat-backed tokens.
- Paylinko: A DLT-based payments solution that enables users to send and receive payments using a link.
- Sabstone: A blockchain-based platform that aims to help companies receive early payments from their clients against their invoices.
- ZipZap: A cross-border money remittance platform that chooses the most efficient means for a payment to reach its destination, including via digital currencies.
The FCA is currently accepting applications for cohort three until July 31, 2017. All interested companies, whether startups or large firms, are encouraged to submit the FCA’s regulatory sandbox application form.