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Sandbox set to lower barriers for start-ups looking to invest in fintech

Sandbox set to lower barriers for start-ups looking to invest in fintech

Sandbox, a new industry innovation that will connect start-up innovators to regulators in order to responsibly bring new financial services solutions to the market, has been launched in Nigeria.

The Financial Services Innovators (FSI), a community of fintech enthusiasts passionate about driving innovation in the financial services industry, last week announced the launch of Sandbox, at the sidelines of EFInA’s Financial Inclusion Conference in Lagos.

The effort, which is supported by over N250 million in multi-year grants from Flourish and EFInA, is intended to lower the barriers to innovation within the financial services ecosystem.

Read also: Empowerment is the key to driving financial inclusion

 “The time to change the narrative of the financial services landscape in Nigeria is here and I am excited to lead this charge at FSI, where we aim to build an inclusive ecosystem of fintech innovators”, Aituazobe Omoareloje Kola-Oladejo, former head of research and development at the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), who was appointed as the first FSI executive director, said.

Ade Shonubi, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said, “I am especially excited for the fintech Industry Innovation Sandbox, which will lower the barriers for early-stage innovators building and scaling global fintech innovation from Nigeria.”

 “Like people, countries must evolve. We must create an environment which enables our people, young and old, as well as the country take control of our tech future,” he said.

To participate in the industry innovation sandbox, innovators need to register as members of the Financial Services Innovators and access a sandbox environment where they can build and test fintech products on technical infrastructure from the NIBSS.

Before FSI, innovators who needed to access the right technical infrastructure to test the viability of their products were typically required to get a CBN license and spend months in meetings with banks, fintech players, and NIBSS to get pilots off the ground.

With the new industry innovation sandbox, registered members of the FSI can leverage the APIs to build a solution within the sandbox environment before seeking regulatory approval from the CBN or partnering with an existing financial services provider licensed by the CBN to take their product to launch.

“When regulators and start-ups engage in meaningful dialogue and mutual support, it is possible to balance innovation with stability and consumer protection,” Ameya Upadhyay, principal at Flourish, a venture of the Omidyar Group, said.

“Through initiatives such as the industry sandbox, FSI will help accelerate the growth of Nigeria’s fintech ecosystem and bring about innovative services that will help improve Nigerians financial health,” Upadhyay said.

FSI was ideated during an innovators breakfast organised by the NIBSS and CBN in 2017 convening representatives from Nigerian fintechs and local tech hubs. The organization is set up as a non-profit and governed by a board of trustees comprised of representatives from the CBN, the NIBSS, and chaired by an elected member representing the country’s fintech community.