usiness investment opportunities on a global scale

A global group of regulators — including Canada’s big four: Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — is launching a global sandbox for fintechs to test innovative products and services on a cross-border basis.

The group of 29 organizations, known as the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), which includes representatives from Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and various other authorities from around the world, announced a pilot program today for firms that want to test innovations in more than one jurisdiction. Interested firms are invited to file applications by Feb. 28, with the expectation that tests will run for six months, starting in the second quarter of 2019.

“This pilot is as much a trial for GFIN members as it will be for firms,” the GFIN says in a release. “We are looking for firms who can be flexible and agile in their participation, and can provide GFIN regulators with feedback on their experience. Firms will benefit from the opportunity to test and compete in the regulated space, and their tests will help inform the future work of the network. Over time, trials could inform regulatory authorities about potential areas of regulatory convergence (for example, streamlined applications), although we stress this is a longer-term opportunity.”

As part of the effort, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) is calling on innovative firms to apply to take part in the pilot.

“Participating in this initiative reflects our ongoing commitment to support novel firms seeking to operate globally, and makes Ontario an attractive choice for foreign businesses looking to enter new markets,” said Maureen Jensen, chairwoman and CEO of the OSC, in a statement.

The OSC says the pilot project “will allow firms to simultaneously trial and scale their products or services in multiple jurisdictions, and gain real-time insights into how they might operate in these markets. The trials will also provide a more efficient way for innovative firms to interact with regulators across the world and help inform the GFIN’s future work.”

At the same time, the GFIN is calling on other regulators to join the group. To that end, it published its initial terms of reference, setting out its governance, membership, and objectives of creating a more efficient way for innovative firms to interact with regulators, help them navigate between countries, and build a new framework for co-operation between regulators on innovation.

“Finalizing our terms of reference for on-boarding new members allows us to formally expand the group in a transparent way,” the GFIN statement adds. “We invite interested regulators and international organizations to review our tiers of membership and consider the potential benefits and commitment levels that come with joining the network.”