OPSI COVID-19 Innovative Response Tracker

Digital Sandbox Pilot – Financial Services Innovation

Innovative response

The City of London Corporation and the Financial Conduct Authority are collaborating on a Digital Sandbox Pilot to support financial services innovation that responds to the challenges of Covid-19. The pilot trials features in a digital testing environment that support early stage technology development and quicker innovation.

The pilot is open to technology solutions that address one of three key challenges exacerbated by Covid-19: preventing fraud and scams, assisting the financial resilience of vulnerable consumers, and improving SME lending. 28 teams were selected to take part in the pilot cohort and develop their proofs of concept, after careful review by an advisory panel comprised of industry experts. The wider global community is invited to register to the platform and observe the development of these solutions, offer mentor support, and provide insight into the extended viability of this innovative ecosystem.

A key feature of the pilot is to provide high quality synthetic data assets for developing, testing, and validating technology solutions. The data mirrors real-life scenarios so that participants can refine their prototypes and was compiled and enhanced during an extensive industry-wide DataSprint in 2020. Other key aspects of the virtual environment are an application programming interface (API) marketplace for participants to test interoperability with products already on market, an integrated development environment, a collaboration platform, and an observation deck for the wider public.

The pilot launched in October 2020 and participants are using it from November 2020 to February 2021. A series of demonstration days will showcase progress and next steps at its end.

Specific issues addressed and anticipated impact

The Digital Sandbox Pilot is addressing current challenges in financial services innovation, such as delay in validating solutions due to lack of data for testing, and speed of getting to market. It is also intended to address the need for financial services innovation and technological solutions that respond to the challenges businesses and consumers are experiencing right now.

Providing access to data and technical support is essential to speed up the development and integration of vital technology solutions. This cannot be achieved without collaboration with the sector. The anticipated impact of the pilot is that by creating this virtual environment for testing and collaboration, the financial services sector will see solutions develop that are closely aligned to current challenges, faster development of early-stage ideas, and solutions that can get to market quicker or integrate sooner because they have the network and validations necessary. The pilot anticipates that in testing this model, it will illustrate the need for a more permanent sandbox platform to anticipate and address future challenges.

Organisations/institutions involved

City of London Corporation
Financial Conduct Authority

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Level(s) of government:
  • Local government
  • Regulator

Issues being addressed:

  • Technology development to support resilience