The FCA has published a speech given by Christopher Woolard, Director of Strategy and Competition, on innovation and the promotion of competition.

The speech highlights the FCA’s desire to overcome the ‘regulatory sandbox’ where firms’ desire for an easier way of testing out products or services before committing to the time and expense of becoming fully authorised is balanced against the FCA requirement that anyone carrying on a regulated activity needs to become authorised and only then can they sell regulated products to consumers.

Mr Woolard says that the FCA wants to develop a new approach that could support the testing of innovation at an early stage, which allows for experimentation while still ensuring an appropriate degree of consumer protection.  Consequently the FCA is considering trialling the Innovation Hub in other parts of the FCA to give firms an ‘informal steer’, although firms would rely on it at their own risk.