FCA: ‘We’re on the cusp of real change in financial services’

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The FCA says the developments it is seeing through Project Innovate suggests the financial services industry is catching up with the game-changing technology seen in other sectors.

In an interview with City AM, FCA executive director of strategy and competition Chris Woolard says he expects financial technology to continue to develop at a pace, with larger players adopting technology and smaller firms scaling up or being acquired by bigger firms.

He says: “From a consumer’s perspective, this is maybe quite an exciting time where we begin to see change in the financial services industry that is perhaps not dissimilar to some of the changes we might have seen in other industries that have been impacted by technology in the last 15 to 20 years.

“So far, largely financial services has been quite resistant to that and we’re seeing a period open up where, actually, we could see some real change.”

But he adds: “There’s always a danger of having a crystal ball. All predictions are always proven wrong.”

Project Innovate was launched in October 2014 to help firms bring new products and services to market. The regulator has also set up what it calls a regulatory “sandbox”, where firms can trial their services in a limited way with the FCA before launching to the wider market.

Last year the sandbox received 69 applications, of which 18 were selected, including proposals from HSBC and True Potential.

The second wave of applications has seen 77 firms apply, including some from outside the UK.