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The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced the launch of a permanent version of its Digital Sandbox. 

Building on the success of its trial phase, the sandbox will provide firms with a secure environment to test their products at an early stage of development, the regulator said on its website on Thursday.

The Digital Sandbox began operating on a trial basis in 2020. It offers firms access to data sets, application program interfaces (APIs), and data security protection. 

During the pilot phases, it was used to evaluate sustainability performance, including eco-friendly decentralized ledgers.

“Following two successful pilots, our digital sandbox will be made available permanently on 1 August 2023, opening up the platform to an even broader range of innovative businesses, start-ups and data providers,” the FCA said.

One of the key benefits of a sandbox is that developers can test and evaluate their products without any unintended side effects impacting a live environment. 

The FCA’s offering can also be configured to support a range of distributed ledgers and digital asset use cases, such as building interoperability between networks.

More specifically, the environment can be used to experiment with innovative concepts for the banking, investment, lending, payments, insurance, and pensions sectors. 

Regulators will have the opportunity to observe ongoing technical testing at an early stage.

Digital Sandbox Offers Access to Over 200 Datasets 

The FCA stated that the digital sandbox offers access to over 200 datasets and more than 1,000 APIs for testing and validating their experiments. 

These datasets encompass payments, transactions, social media, and credit data.

Furthermore, the watchdog said the platform also has implemented robust data security protection measures to allow experimentation while safeguarding the data assets on the platform. 

The FCA also highlighted the positive outcomes resulting from previous participation in the sandbox. 

“The Digital Sandbox works to foster innovation and growth — more than half of the previous Small to Medium Enterprise participants in the pilots and TechSprints made positive developments including launching new products, securing funding and partnerships, or receiving industry awards or recognitions,” the FCA added.

The approval process for sandbox applicants typically takes up to four weeks, the agency said. 

Participants can apply for the Digital Sandbox starting from August 1, and access its wealth of resources for innovative experimentation upon approval. 

Overall, the launch of the permanent Digital Sandbox by the FCA provides an opportunity for firms, start-ups, and data providers to explore and test new fintech products in a secure and supportive environment.

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