On the second anniversary of the FCA's Project Innovate, the FCA has announced the firms that were successful in their applications to begin testing in the first cohort of the regulatory sandbox.

One of Project Innovate's ambitions earlier in the year was to engage more with incumbent institutions, with the FCA stating that "Project Innovate was always aimed at businesses of all shapes and sizes seeking to innovate in the interests of consumers. But we have had little engagement with large, incumbent businesses over the last nine months. This is a missed opportunity for them, particularly if they hold back on initiatives because of apprehension or uncertainty about the regulatory environment, as well as for us (since it limits our impact). We will therefore build a programme of proactive engagement with large incumbents, to make sure their potential for consumer-friendly innovation is not being held back by regulatory considerations. In particular, we will seek out opportunities to conduct pilot research on new initiatives."

We're pleased to see that this message seems to have come across - HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group are both in the cohort.  HSBC are testing an app developed in partnership with Pariti Technologies, a FinTech start-up, to help customers better manage their finances, and Lloyds are testing an approach that aims to improve the experience for branch customers which is aligned with the online and over the phone experience. 

Firms can apply to be part of the second sandbox cohort from 21 November 2016. The application period will close on 19 January 2017.