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The Polish Financial Regulator Won’t Create a Regulatory Sandbox. Instead, It's Introducing the Innovation Hub Program

The new project will let fintech companies receive assistance from the regulator while applying for government licenses

The Financial Supervision Authority has announced the introduction of its Innovation Hub program. The regulator stated that the new solution will facilitate dialog with fintech companies. Businesses applying for a license, for instance from a national payment institution, can now ask the regulator questions via the Innovation Hub, and the regulator's response should make the complicated process easier.

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According to the Financial Supervision Authority, the Innovation Hub project is targeted at two types of companies from the fintech sector. One of them is startups planning to operate in an area subject to financial regulation, and the other consists of businesses that are already subject to the Financial Supervision Authority's regulation and are planning to introduce a fintech product or service. The regulator claims that it will support companies in identifying the correct laws, regulations and supervisory opinions that apply to the given company, business model, product or service offered.

How can companies participate in the Innovation Hub? They need to fill out an application form that can be found on the Financial Supervision Authority's website. A positive evaluation of the application will depend mostly on whether the solution is an innovative one, different from what is already available on the market. Companies applying for the Innovation Hub should additionally already have a preliminary legal analysis of their solution and prove that there is some legal uncertainty around it that requires assistance.

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Marek Chrzanowski, the Financial Supervision Authority director, announced the project last fall, during the “Kongres 590” event. At that point the market was counting on the introduction of a so-called regulatory sandbox, which would allow fintech companies to test their solutions without the need to apply for government licenses. However, instead of that solution, the Financial Supervision Authority decided to create the Innovation Hub.

Personally, I think that the introduction of the so called small payment institution license will be far more important. Legislation describing it is included in the bill on payment services that is set to implement the PSD II directive in the Polish law. The government is supposed to take up that project soon. The conditions for obtaining a small payment institution license are significantly less restrictive than the national payment institution license that fintech companies can currently apply for.

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