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Mayor Establishes the District of Columbia Financial Services Regulatory Sandbox and Innovation Council

Monday, February 11, 2019
Measure will Encourage Innovation in Provision and Regulation of Financial Services

Washington, DC—Mayor Bowser recently established the District of Columbia Financial Services Regulatory Sandbox and Innovation Council. The Council is charged with studying and reporting on the feasibility of implementing a financial services regulatory sandbox in the District of Columbia. The Council also is called upon to develop a blockchain and innovation regulatory framework to facilitate financial services innovation in the District. If a sandbox is feasible, the Council will include with its report legislative, programmatic and policy recommendations for the Mayor.

“We want the District on the cutting edge—utilizing the intersection of technology and financial services to benefit our residents and businesses,” said Stephen C. Taylor, Commissioner of the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking. “Washington, DC is a creative, tech-savvy city, and as we grow, we will continue to explore ways to ensure that the District’s prosperity is inclusive; we will also champion innovation that could improve the availability, accessibility and affordability of financial services for all.”

The financial services markets in the US and around the world have been experiencing major transformation through innovation and modern technology. In 2015, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority pioneered the regulatory sandbox as a space for businesses to test innovative products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms without immediately incurring all the traditional regulatory consequences of engaging in the activity. In addition to fostering innovation and competition, a sandbox can help District regulators understand how innovative firms are evolving and can adapt regulatory rules, if necessary and appropriate, to better suit the evolving landscape, while protecting consumers. Finally, a sandbox will allow technology to be used to streamline and innovate the District’s regulatory operations, which could further benefit financial services providers and consumers.

The membership of the Council calls for a cross section of professionals from the insurance, securities, captive insurance and banking industries; consumer representatives; technology industry members; and financial services regulatory professionals. The Council will be chaired by the Commissioner for the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, and includes the District’s Chief Technology Officer. The Mayor requests that the Council report on its findings within the first six months and regularly review the effectiveness of the Blockchain and Innovation Regulatory Framework; the Council will also review and help administer, if feasible, the regulatory sandbox.

By fostering innovation and allowing new products and services to come to market, a sandbox would benefit consumers by increasing choice and reducing costs. This will be especially important for consumers traditionally underserved by current financial services. Technology innovations can lead to more affordable products and services, new distribution channels that reach excluded groups, operational efficiencies that make it possible to serve low-margin customers profitably, and better compliance and risk-management approaches.

“This initiative has the potential to provide new opportunities for consumers to create, build and protect wealth,” said Commissioner Taylor. “With the Department’s regulatory authority of all three major financial industries, we are well positioned to provide a full-service and integrated regulatory sandbox.”

To view the Mayor's order, click here.

About DISB

The mission of the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking is two-fold: 1) to protect consumers by providing equitable, thorough, efficient and prompt regulatory supervision of the financial services companies, firms and individuals operating in the District of Columbia; and 2) develop and improve market conditions to attract and retain financial services firms to the District of Columbia. Visit DISB online at disb.dc.gov.