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FCA pledges to open Project Innovate to larger firms

FCA pledges to open Project Innovate to larger firms

The head of the Financial Conduct Authority’s Project Innovate has said he wants to do more work to help large regulated companies get into fintech.

Bob Ferguson made the comments while speaking to the Westminster Business Forum conference on the future of fintech this morning (13 January).

“I think our engagement with fintech start-ups and smaller businesses generally has been pretty good over the last year or longer, but we do want to do more with large incumbent institutions.

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“Innovation is capable of coming from those quarters as well and we do want to do more in terms of international engagement.”

He said that the FCA is keen to engage with fintech businesses which are currently based overseas. “We want to make sure they understand the pros and cons of entering the UK market.”

In November, the FCA announced that it was looking into creating a regulatory sandbox, with support from HM Treasury. This would allow businesses to test their ideas without danger of enforcement action and without putting consumers at risk.

Mr Ferguson told the conference that this would be up and running by the spring.

One of the lessons he said he had learnt in the year or so since the launch of Project Innovate was that demand is “insatiable”.

He said: “While we have supported 177 businesses, I have to say we declined to support another 150 or so who came to us.

“Some of those businesses were not as innovative as they cracked themselves up to be.”

He added that businesses could rely on the FCA giving an honest opinion quickly, but would have to take that opinion at their own risk.

damian.fantato@ft.com