The FCA’s Executive Director for Strategy and Competition, Christopher Woolard, recently spoke in London on the impact of FCA Innovate, the FCA project which is aimed at promoting innovation in financial services in the interests of consumers. He also set out the FCA’s next steps to ensure further progress.

Mr Woolard stated that firms completing the Innovate programme have come to market 40% faster than equivalent financial services firms, saving 3 months from testing to roll out. He explained that the entry into the market of smaller insurance firms has had a knock-on effect on incumbents, who have been forced to innovate their services, and in some cases have formed partnerships with these start-ups.

Overall, FCA Innovate has assisted nearly 700 firms in some capacity, and has received over 1,500 support requests since its launch in 2014, at which time it was staffed by just 2 employees.

Looking to the future, Mr Woolard referred to the Global Financial Innovation Network which the FCA launched at the start of 2019. This is an international network of regulators comprising 35 organisations that share knowledge and allows firms to trial cross-border initiatives. Mr Woolard said that projects aimed at solving cross-border issues such as trade and consumer access “are not just tinkering around the edges of the status quo, but have the potential to fundamentally change how things are done”.

While there are still significant challenges to face, Mr Woolard argued that innovations previously seen as “niche” are now operating en masse for the good of the public, including in areas which are currently in the public eye – for example, FCA Innovate has announced a list of 9 firms to work on its Green FinTech Challenge.