On 20 July 2023, the FCA announced the launch of its permanent Digital Sandbox. The Digital Sandbox, which has until now only been available temporarily to those participating in pilots and TechSprints, will be made available permanently on 1 August 2023 following two successful pilots.

The Digital Sandbox is a testing environment which allows the FCA to support firms at the early stage of product development by enabling experimentation through proof of concepts. Alongside innovators, the permanent Digital Sandbox also welcomes data providers to apply to list their data on the platform and gain traffic and insights on its usage.  

The FCA explains that participants in the Digital Sandbox will have permanent access to:

  • High-quality datasets and Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) – covering payments and transactions data, social media data, investment, Companies House and credit data.
  • Robust data security protection – the platform has an integrated development environment to allow experimentation while safeguarding the data assets on the platform. 
  • A collaborative platform – intended to facilitate diversity of thought, share learnings and foster an ecosystem between teams, observers and mentors.  
  • An observation desk – to enable interested parties such as regulators, incumbents and others to observe in-flight testing at a technical level. 

From 1 August 2023, firms will be able to apply for the permanent Digital Sandbox under any of the listed themes: banking, investment, lending, payments, insurance, pension, wholesale buy-side, wholesale sell-side or cross-sectors. Applications will be assessed against a set of criteria: in scope, genuine innovation, consumer benefit, readiness, and need for support.

The approval process is intended to take a maximum of 4 weeks.