Business

Dan Taylor

UK’s FCA accepts 29 crypto startups to regulatory sandbox

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has accepted 29 companies into cohort 4 of its regulatory sandbox, designed to create a safe space for innovation in crypto assets.

The regulator, known to be keen on potential uses of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in the financial services sector, published a list of the 29 companies to be included in the project.

Amongst those companies accepted was BlockEx, a “platform that facilitates the issuance and manages the life-cycle of regulated bonds using DLT [distributed ledger technology].” The London Media Exchange, Natwest, Salary Finance, Universal Tokens and World Reserve Trust are also included within the cohort.

According to the aims of the project, the FCA is hoping the crypto sandbox will foster innovation in areas including insurance and consumer credit.

To date, the financial watchdog said it has received 69 applications for cohort 4, coming “from a diverse range of firms operating across the financial services sector including in areas such as consumer credit, automated advice and insurance.”

“We have accepted a number of firms that will be testing propositions relating to cryptoassets. We are keen to explore whether, in a controlled environment, consumer benefits can be delivered while effectively managing the associated risks,” the FCA stated.

Automated advice in particular is one area the FCA has embraced, with firms like Dashly, a “fully autonomous, ‘always-on’ mortgage advice platform that continuously tracks and compares a borrower’s existing mortgage, alerting them the moment it pays to switch,” and Meet Mia, a Facebook Messenger bot for selling and answering questions about travel insurance.

The FCA is now working with the 29 companies involved in the project, initially to set parameters and build consumer protections for the duration of the regulatory sandbox testing.

The tests are said to be “small-scale”, and will conducted over a “short-term” period, in order to establish the feasibility of these systems within regulatory structures.

With cohort 4 preparing to commence, the FCA is now accepting applications for its fifth cohort, indicating more tests in a real-world setting to come.

The projects comes as the latest sign of the FCA’s commitment to developing the blockchain and cryptoassets space, and to developing regulation to support these types of businesses.

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