FCA TechSprint 2024 – A Catalyst for Inclusive Financial Technology

Embracing Innovation for Financial Inclusion: FCA's TechSprint Initiative

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has launched a new TechSprint focussing on the topic of Financial Inclusion. The application period will run from the 19th of January until the 13th of February. The cohort- based sprint will then run from 7th March to 30th May 2024. This initiative is aimed at leveraging technological solutions to foster financial inclusion, a critical step towards a more equitable financial landscape.

A Virtual Journey Culminating in Glasgow

The three-month TechSprint will be conducted virtually, allowing widespread participation and collaboration. The event will culminate in an in-person showcase on 30 May 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland, offering a platform for participants to present their innovative solutions.

The FinTech Scotland Research & Innovation Roadmap identified that with advances in new data sources and emerging technology capabilities being developed by Academia and innovative SMEs within the sector Scotland has the history, the experience and the capabilities to take a leading role on the development and acceleration of solutions and widening access to inclusive products and services.  Companies like Inicio, InBest, Amiqus and ClearScore are great examples of leading innovative fintechs spearheading the use of data and technology to support financial inclusion.

Glasgow is also home to the Financial Regulation Innovation Lab (FRIL) which launched in December 2023. The FRIL project is funded by the Glasgow City Region (GCR) Innovation Accelerator programme led by Innovate UK on behalf of UK Research and Innovation. The GCR accelerator supports the UK Government’s levelling-up agenda which at its foundation supports sustainable and inclusive economic growth across all the nations and regions. An inclusive banking and financial sector is integral to achieving this. This Techprint is designed to tackle challenges spanning not only access to financial services but also issues encountered throughout the consumer journey.

Tackling Key Problem Statements

The TechSprint is structured around three fundamental problem statements:

  1. What technological solutions can help to increase the probability of consumers being accepted when they apply for everyday financial services, such as basic bank accounts, credit or insurance products?  
  2. What technological solutions can help to deliver positive outcomes for consumers when a firm declines their application for a product, or when at a subsequent point in the consumer journey they become excluded because the product is no longer suitable for their needs?  
  3. How can technology, including AI, be deployed to ensure that firms deliver good outcomes across the board to groups of consumers who have been excluded or not well-served in the past, particularly in retail banking, payments, credit and insurance?

Leveraging the FCA Digital Sandbox

The FCA's unique digital sandbox will be a central resource in the TechSprint, offering access to both real and synthetic data. Participants are encouraged to bring their data or explore other data sources to fuel their innovative solutions.

Building Diverse and Dynamic Teams

Participants in the TechSprint will form diverse teams including visionaries, challengers, and thinkers, ensuring a breadth of perspectives and ideas. These diverse teams are expected to bring their unique personalities and approaches to the table, fostering creativity and innovation.

The TechSprint will encourage collaboration among a diverse range of industry participants and stakeholders. Teams are encouraged to engage in collaborative discussions and sessions throughout the event. The focus is not just on competition but on collective innovation and knowledge sharing.

A period of heightened focus

The TechSprint will contribute to a wider programme across Scotland focused on financial inclusion. FinTech Scotland, Financial Inclusion Scotland, Scottish Financial Enterprise, and Smart Data Foundry are all working in collaboration with industry, regulators and government on a range of initiatives all focused on driving financial inclusion, for people, and businesses.  There are a number of initiatives under way for 2024 that create the opportunities to collaborate and drive action on this important agenda.

Solutions will be multifaceted and will require a large degree of public and private sector collaboration. FinTech Scotland’s cluster management approach brings together consumer groups, academia, the financial services sector, technology innovators, data experts, regulators and government and fosters the right environment for collaborative problem solving.

Getting Involved in the Tech Sprint

Interested parties are invited to apply for participation or mentorship in the TechSprint. Applicants are asked to provide detailed information about their experience, data sets, additional resources, and expertise. The FCA stresses the importance of diversity in applications, reflecting its commitment to inclusivity.

Further information on how to get involved, deeper dives into the use case statements and frequently asked questions as well as a detailed participation pack can be found here

Please include a point that the sprint opens for applications on 19th of January - running until the 13th of February.