The Central Bank of Nigeria (“CBN”) on the 13th of December 2022 launched the Regulatory Sandbox (“Sandbox”) nearly 24 months after the release of its Framework for Regulatory Sandbox Operations (“Framework”). The Sandbox was created in a bid to encourage payment solution providers and financial technology entities test products, services or solutions that will foster collaborations, grow the financial ecosystem, and strengthen stakeholder involvement with an oversight by the CBN.
The Regulatory Sandbox is a formal process for firms, companies, startups to conduct live tests of new innovative products, services, or business models in a controlled environment with regulatory oversight.
An interesting feature of the Sandbox and Framework is that innovative products and services that were previously rejected will be considered for sandbox trials on a case-by-case basis.
Objectives of the Sandbox Operation
The objective of the Sandbox can be summarized to ensure consumer protection (such as increase competition, widen consumers’ choice), encourage innovative business models that drive financial inclusion and ensure adequate provisions in regulations to create an enabling environment for such innovation
Who can apply?
The application process is open to existing CBN licensees and other local companies such as companies in financial, technology and telecommunications sector. In addition, companies that are proposing non-regulated financial products and services using emerging technologies may also be eligible.
Any intending applicant must satisfy the following conditions:
- The product should be innovative.
- Applicant must provide the proposed project within a limited transaction (value and volume)
- Applicant must have conducted adequate and appropriate assessment to demonstrate usefulness, functionality as well as the associated risk of the product, service or solution.
- Applicant must show availability of necessary resource to support testing in the Sandbox
- Applicant must have a business plan that shows that the product, service or solution can be successfully deployed after exit.
During application, kindly note that approval will be granted in cohorts; these are group of innovators that share the characteristic of having been allowed to enter the Sandbox at the same time for the same period. Moreso, there will be one cohort per year named after the year in which the cohort was accepted.
The number of innovators to be accepted into a cohort is a function of the Bank’s resource capacity to support innovators
In the event that a participant opts to discontinue in the sandbox, it may do so in writing, seeking the consent of the Bank. The Bank’s consent shall be based on the effective closure of any outstanding regulatory obligations and consumer related matters, that may have arisen from the participant’s sandbox operations.
More interestingly, The Bank may provide support for a successful participant for the purpose of obtaining requisite licence in the following ways:
- Providing guidance in filing their applications for licence.
- Advising on options for addressing identified risk issues.
All applications successfully submitted would be acknowledged by CBN. Applicants would be informed of approval or non-approval to participate in the sandbox within 60 working days after the closing date indicated in this publication. Interested participants should note that by applying for admission into the Sandbox, they consent that the CBN may use or exclude any data/content submitted by you for its internal evaluation.
Kindly note that Applications are to be submitted on or before February 1, 2023
- Where an application to participate in the Sandbox is successful, the CBN will issue a Letter of Approval to allow participants test their innovation upon entry into the Sandbox.
- Upon completion of a Sandbox test, the CBN will decide whether the product, service or solution should be introduced to the market.
- Consumers will be allowed to participate in the testing exercise. However, consumer safeguards will be in place to mitigate any risk the consumer may be exposed to.
- Participants have a confidentiality obligation and have intellectual property rights to their product, service, or solution.
- Participants shall be responsible for monitoring and supervising the activities of its operations and staff.
- Participants shall monitor effective compliance with set limits and establish other prudential measures in each case.
- Participants shall take all other measures to enable it to operate strictly within the requirements of this Framework.
- Participants may leverage APIs available from other CBN-licensed institutions’ innovation sandboxes.
The launch of the Sandbox is a welcome development for the financial sector and will encourage products, solutions and services that are not only innovative but viable and scalable. More importantly, it will enable innovators to test their innovations, and identify and encourage innovative solutions that will enhance the design and delivery of payment and financial services in Nigeria.
Please visit https://sandbox.cbn.gov.ng