Top tips to improve your tech offering

This article is part of
Guide to making Project Innovate work for you

 The report said: "A famous early example of the use of cognitive technology to improve a product offering is the recommendation feature of the Netflix online movie rental service, which uses machine learning to predict which moves a customer will like.

"This feature has had a significant impact on customers' use of the service; it accounts for as much as 75 per cent of Netflix usage.

"Another category of cognitive technology application is automation. By automation we mean using computer systems to do work that people used to do.

"The result is that the work gets done faster, cheaper, better or some combination of the three. The organisation that implements it, rather than customers, tends to be the primary beneficiary, generally through cost savings or more efficient use of resources."

Current examples

David Geale, director of policy at the FCA, says the regulator helps firms to navigate the regulatory landscape "where they meet our criteria" and, if they qualify for the regulatory sandbox, then the FCA will provide several tools each company can use to test their services and products.

According to the FCA, the first cohort of the regulatory sandbox which closed to applications on 8 July 2016, drew a total of 69 applications from a diverse range of sectors, geographies and sizes.

Twenty-four applications were deemed to meet the sandbox eligibility criteria and were accepted to develop towards testing, including early stage start-ups, challengers and incumbent firms.

On its website, the FCA has published a list of the firms which are in the testing process, on a short-term and small-scale basis, and the regulator is working with these firms to agree testing parameters and building in consumer safeguards.

Names in the frame for cohort one:




An e-money platform based on distributed ledger technology that facilitates the secure transfer and holding of funds using a phone based app.


A cross-border money transfer service powered by digital currencies / blockchain technology.

Blink Innovation Limited

An insurance product with an automated claims process, which allows travellers to instantly book a new ticket on their mobile device in the event of a flight cancellation.


An online platform and app which allows users to manage their financial products, with personalised insights, on a single dashboard. Bud's marketplace introduces relevant services which users can interact with through API integrations.

Citizens Advice

A semi-automated advice tool which allows debt advisers and clients to compare the key features of available debt solutions.

DISC Holdings LimitedA technology provider that has partnered with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to determine the feasibility of making emergency payments using means other than cash or the Faster Payments Scheme. The payments platform will use blockchain to allow the DWP to credit value to a mobile device to transfer the value directly to a third party.


A payments service provider that aims to provide cross-border payments using blockchain technology.


An app developed in partnership with Pariti Technologies, a FinTech start-up, to help customers better manage their finances.


A web-based software platform that streamlines the overall Initial Public Offering (IPO) distribution process for investors, issuing companies and their advisers.

Lloyds Banking Group

 An approach that aims to improve the experience for branch customers which is aligned with the online and over the phone experience.

Nextday Property Limited

An internet-based property company that will provide an interest free loan for a guaranteed amount to customers if they are unable to sell their property within 90 days.


 A platform that uses automation and blockchain for issuance and lifecycle management of private placement securities.


A platform that represents private companies’ shares electronically on the blockchain, enabling them to manage shareholdings, conduct bookbuilding online and facilitate transfers.


An app which helps users to build up savings by putting aside small amounts of money. These savings can then be used to pay off existing loans early. Oval will be working with Oakam, a consumer credit firm, and a number of their customers during the test period.


A smart-card enabled retail payment system based on their OpenCSD distributed ledger.


An app and web-based service that creates personal or commercial identity and verifiable documents on a distributed ledger. In partnership with Aviva they will provide a system for automated customer authentication.


An e-money platform based on distributed ledger technology that facilitates the use of “smart contracts” to transfer donations to a charity.


A micro savings app that provides an across-account view; enables a round-up service every time a user spends money and calculates an affordable savings amount based on the user’s spending behaviour.

There will be a second cohort which will start testing further down the line. Mr Geale adds: "For any firm unsure where to start, it's worth checking out the Project Innovate section of our website.

"It provides details about the type of support we can provide and sets out our eligibility criteria, which firms must meet before we can provide assistance."

Systemise advice processes as a starting-point

Last year, Steve Thomas, professor at Cass Business School, said the disrupting advance of technology would have still forced a change in the financial services sector, even if the RDR had not taken place, commenting: "Financial services firms would have always had to think harder and smarter about adapting with the technology."