Testing for the first cohort of applicants will be underway shortly, the financial watchdog said.
The Financial Conduct Authority has unveiled a list of 18 firms accepted into its “regulatory sandbox” as it seeks to assist innovative businesses in navigating the UK's regulatory system.
The FCA describes its laboratory as a “safe space” where businesses can test new products and services in a live environment that is absent of regulatory risks, but has consumer protections in place.
The regulatory sandbox stemmed from the FCA's Project Innovate, which was kick-started in 2014, and is part of a seemingly perpetual worldwide trend in which financial organisations establish “fintech labs” in order to stay ahead of trends and remain competitive.
The financial watchdog received applications from 69 firms for the first cohort. Of these, 24 met eligibility criteria and were accepted.
Among the accepted applicants were offerings from well-established firms such as HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group, as well as early stage start-ups that use so-called “disruptive” technologies like blockchain and bitcoin.
Additional projects that were accepted include a semi-automated advice tool and a software platform that streamlines the overall initial public offering distribution process for investors.
Testing for the first cohort of applicants is expected to begin "shortly”, the FCA said.
“It has been an intense process for both firms and ourselves and we are grateful for their cooperation and hard work in getting us all to this position,” said Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA.
He added: “We look forward to these businesses bringing new products and services to market whilst we ensure that appropriate consumer protection safeguards are in place.”