The Central Bank recognizes the increasing significance of keeping up with and embracing emerging technologies in the financial sector. The Bank encourages FinTech experimentation for the use of technology to provide accessible, efficient and affordable financial services and products.
However, stringent regulatory requirements can impend innovation in finance. The Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) is committed to creating an environment that is conducive to disruptive and consumer-centric innovation, and in driving effective competition while preserving consumer protection and maintaining the integrity of the market.
The CBE has created a FinTech regulatory sandbox to allow for the live testing of innovative financial products, services and business models in a controlled environment, under the supervision of the relevant regulators. The sandbox allows new and existing FinTech startups, financial institutions and firms providing services to such businesses to test their products with relaxed regulation.
The sandbox will allow the CBE to engage constructively with FinTechs and financial institutions, to improve the capacity to regulate innovations and gain input to inform regulatory reforms. The CBE seeks to facilitate a more open and active dialogue between regulators, FinTechs and financial institutions in Eswatini.
The sandbox is relevant to Financial Institutions, FinTechs – both standalones and those partnering with Financial Institutions - and professional service firms providing support to such businesses.
These are businesses looking to test; financial services products and business models regulated by the Central Bank of Eswatini that use new or existing technology in an innovative way.
The sandbox provides firms with the following benefits:
- Provide regulatory clarity for innovative services and products.
- Improve the speed to market by providing an environment and license for testing with relaxed regulation.
- Improve innovators’ access to external funding by reducing the cost of regulatory uncertainty to start-ups.
Application and Approval Process
The following figure depicts the sandbox application, approval and participation process. However, the exact journey and the CBE’s involvement will depend on the solution being tested, the testing options, and the regulatory status of the company and the extant of consumer involvement.
- Application Stage: The startup or company applying to participate in the sandbox submits a testing proposal to the CBE explaining the product. Refer to the Appendix 1.1 of the sandbox guidelines for information on the required content for the application. A template application form is provided in Appendix 1.2.
- Evaluation Stage: The Sandbox Evaluation Committee will review the proposal against the eligibility criteria set out in section 5. If the proposal is accepted, the startup or company will be assigned a contact person for the sandbox and be informed within 21 working days of applying to the sandbox. The applicant will be expected to enter the sandbox within 21 working days of approval. In other cases, the startup or company may need to review and modify the application for resubmission.
- Testing Approach Stage: Upon the final approval, the CBE will work with the participant to establish the best testing options, including testing parameters, risks and safeguards, measurable outcomes and reporting requirements.
- Testing and Monitoring Stage: The startup or company starts working on the proof-of-concept (POC) based on the testing approach and agreed-upon parameters. The company will be required to send interim reports to the CBE on a monthly basis, during the testing period and a final report upon completion. The CBE will also make data requests to participants, as needed, to ensure proper record maintenance and compliance.
- Sandbox Exit Stage: The participants submit all relevant reports and exit the sandbox using an exit strategy agreed upon with the Evaluation Committee. The startup or company may proceed to launch the product or solution at a broader scale – outside the sandbox.
More informationon the CBE FinTech regulatory sandbox is available on the sandbox guidelines document. Click here to download the sandbox guidelines.
Applying to the Sandbox
The sandbox guidelines set out the objective and principles of the sandbox, and provide guidance to the applicant on the application process and the information to be provided to the Central Bank. Click here to download the Application Form.
Completed applications should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org . The email should have the subject “Application to the CBE FinTech Regulatory Sandbox”.
If you have any questions about the sandbox, please send an email to email@example.com