The Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance has launched a consultation on a Draft Decree on the criteria to test FinTech initiatives in a sandbox environment and to establish a FinTech Committee. The criteria include the activities that are eligible for the sandbox, the requirements that need to be met by entities applying for the sandbox and the content of the application. The consultation also sets out the provisions on the role and tasks of the FinTech Committee.

What has happened

On 3 February 2020, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) published for consultation a Draft Decree on the criteria to test FinTech initiatives in a sandbox environment and the establishment of a FinTech Committee chaired by the MEF.

What does this mean?

The Draft Decree implements the provisions set out under Article 36(2-bis) and (2-octies) of Law Decree No. 34/2019, as converted into Law No. 58/2019, which followed the European Supervisory Authorities' report FinTech: Regulatory sandboxes and innovation hubs, published in January 2019.

The FinTech sandbox

The Draft Decree sets out the criteria for the establishment of a FinTech sandbox.

Activities eligible for the sandbox: the sandbox may be accessed by entities carrying out either regulated or non-regulated activities which, among other things, have innovative features due to the use of technologies contributing to the innovation of banking, financial and insurance products and services, would imply a derogation from provisions or guidelines issued by the supervisory authorities and bring added value at least in terms of benefits for users, efficiency of the financial system or lower compliance costs.

Requirements for entities applying for the sandbox and dialogue with supervisory authorities: specific requirements set out under the Draft Decree need to be met by entities intending to apply for the sandbox. Before filing the application, the relevant entities can open informal dialogues with the supervisory authorities to get information and clarifications through the dedicated channels to be established by the latter.

Application dossier and procedure: the Draft Decree sets out the content of the application which, among other things, must include:

  • a detailed description of the activity to be tested, including its goals, the envisaged benefits for users and the reasons why a testing period is requested;
  • a proof of concept and an evaluation of the financial sustainability of the project;
  • an assessment of potential risks and envisaged remedial actions; and
  • user safeguarding measures.

The FinTech Committee can establish timeframes of a maximum two-month period for filing applications related to specific innovative projects, but the entity can also file the application regardless of the establishment of the mentioned timeframes. The testing period has a maximum duration of 18 months, but can be extended.

Monitoring activity and register of the entities admitted to the sandbox: the relevant supervisory authorities will need to carry out ongoing supervision during the testing period and report to the FinTech Committee at least on a half-yearly basis. The FinTech Committee will establish a register of the entities admitted to the sandbox.

The FinTech Committee

The Draft Decree sets out provisions on the role and tasks of the FinTech Committee.

FinTech Committee tasks: the FinTech Committee will monitor the evolution of FinTech to identify goals, define strategies and take actions to foster the development of the FinTech area, also by supporting initiatives for the reduction of administrative burdens and drafting guidelines and best practices. The FinTech Committee will also facilitate contacts between the industry, institutions and authorities and liaise with foreign regulators.

FinTech Committee meetings: the FinTech Committee will meet if requested by any of its members but, in any case, will meet on a quarterly basis and can perform its tasks through different working groups depending on the subject. Additionally, on the basis of the topic to be discussed, the FinTech Committee can invite other authorities, experts or FinTech players to participate in its meetings.

What happens now?

The deadline for the consultation is 19 March 2020.