Long term, it pays to be a visionary, and in today’s hyper-competitive financial services industry, practical forward-thinking is a sign of real progress. Data-driven regulation and compliance is the key to a successful future financial services industry, and in this regard, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) continues to punch above its weight with its capability in fast-paced, innovative and cost-effective products and a welcoming Sandbox regime.

The Sandbox is where FinTech innovation meets RegTech practicality. The Sandbox aims to promote more effective competition in the interests of consumers by allowing both existing and prospective licensees to test innovative products, services, and business models in a live market environment, while ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place.

To this end, a sandbox can help to encourage more FinTech experimentation within a well-defined space and duration, where the regulator will provide the requisite regulatory support, with the fourfold aim of increasing efficiency; managing risks better; creating new opportunities; or improving people’s lives. The Sandbox is an experiment for both regulator and regulated alike.

The BVI hosted its first FinTech conference, entitled ‘Think Differently! The Great Digital Disruption and the New Internet Economy’, in both the BVI and in Singapore back in 2018. Indeed, BVI Finance is working with the Financial Services Institute and the National University of Singapore to design a practical course to teach FinTech and RegTech at various levels.

The data science technologies of artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big data and behavioural/predictive analytics, and blockchain are poised to revolutionize regulation and compliance; and create a new generation of RegTech start-ups drawn to the BVI by its benign regulatory Sandbox regime, its array of incubator and approved funds and its ever-popular business company regime.

Automation is all the rage, but why is this happening, and what are the benefits? In short, money–cost savings and greater efficiency are both imperatives and key drivers. The intended benefits of this automation will likely be reduced costs for financial services firms as well as the removal of a key barrier for fintech as they enter financial services markets.