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Sandbox: a step forward to the financial market's liberalisation

March 11, 2020 | Knowledgebase

Sandbox: a step forward to the financial market's liberalisation

Not long ago, the regulation of the financial market in Switzerland has changed significantly. Amongst others, such innovation as sandbox was introduced in 2017. Activity, which now falls under the sandbox, previously was subject to the banking license requirements. The exemption aims to facilitate innovative business models, FINMA claims. The meaning of sandbox, its peculiarities and requirements for obtaining are discussed below.
What is sandbox?
Sandbox, also known as the regulation-free space, is a license-exempt area, which allows public deposits of up to CHF 1 million without requiring a banking license. [1] Additional rule is that financial intermediary does not operate in the interest rate differential business. [2] As FINMA emphasizes, it remains the privilege of the banks. [3]

The new license exception was designed particularly for financial innovators in order to reduce unnecessary obstacles for their activity. It applies to all business models that accept public deposits (depending on the structure of the business model, for example payment services provider, depository of cryptocurrencies or crowd lender). [1]
Sandbox requirements
The basic requirements for those who want to operate under the sandbox are compliance with AMLA provisions and affiliation to a self-regulatory organization. Also, as was already mentioned, deposits amounts shall not exceed CHF 1 million.

Besides, sandbox actors should inform the depositors, in writing or by any other means allowing establishing the proof of it by a text, before they make the deposit:

1. That it is not supervised by FINMA, and

2. The deposit is not covered by the deposit guarantee. [2]
Conclusions
Introduction of sandbox exemption is a step forward to the Swiss financial market's liberalization since it relieves the regulatory burden on financial entities. The sandbox requirements are less extensive than for a banking license due to the lower risks. Regulation-free space allows a greater amount of players to be involved in deposit activities, which previously was exclusively banks' prerogative.
Sources:
1. https://www.finma.ch/en/documentation/dossier/dossier-fintech/entwicklungen-im-bereich-fintech/
2. Verordnung über die Banken und Sparkassen (Banking Ordinance, BO)
3. https://www.finma.ch/en/news/2019/03/20190315-mm-fintech/

Legal disclaimer. This article does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The article should be used for informational purposes only.
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