Central Bank of Ireland announces plans to establish Innovation Sandbox Programme in 2024

04 June 2024 Press Release


Central Bank of Ireland

The Central Bank of Ireland has today confirmed it will establish an Innovation Sandbox Programme later this year. The programme will provide regulatory advice and support for innovative projects that promote better outcomes for society and the financial system.

The announcement follows a three-month public consultation, and comes alongside a Feedback Statement to a consultation on the Central Bank’s approach to engagement with innovation in the financial sector.

The Central Bank has outlined the Innovation Sandbox Programme will take a thematic approach, with themes and a call for potential participants to issue in the coming months, and the first programme to commence later this year (Quarter 4). The programme will be open to applications from anyone developing innovations for the financial system and will have a transparent application process. 

Feedback received on the Central Bank’s approach has been broadly positive. The consultation responses included a number of recommendations, which the Central Bank has carefully considered and has made some adjustments where appropriate. Given the predominantly EU-basis of most regulatory requirements and the importance of protecting consumers interests, the Central Bank does not propose to provide derogations or waivers from regulation. The sandbox will apply the regulatory framework proportionally, with an outcome focused, risk based approach.

Stakeholders also welcomed the Central Bank’s plan to enhance its Innovation Hub to deepen its engagement with the sector, placing an increased focus on regional engagement to support innovation across Ireland. 

Commenting on today’s publication, Deputy Governor for Financial Regulation Sharon Donnery said: “In a changing financial system, the Central Bank is evolving its approach – to continue to ensure the financial system operates in the best interests of consumers and the wider economy. We can play an important role in harnessing the benefits of innovation while also managing the risks. Enhancing our engagement with innovation in financial services and delivering an Innovation Sandbox Programme are important steps forward, and we were very pleased with the strong support for our proposals. 

“These proposals are part of the Central Bank’s strategy to transform its approach to regulation and supervision. They will help foster innovation in financial services, supporting better outcomes consistent with our public policy objectives. And they will help firms to build safeguards into their early stage development, embedding a regulatory culture to ensure they are properly prepared for the responsibilities that come as regulated firms.”

Meanwhile, the Central Bank today also published its Innovation Hub Update for 2023. The report outlines the Innovation Hub engaged with 66 firms in 2023, a 20% increase from 2022, and shows an increase in engagement from small early start up innovators. It demonstrates the high demand for engagement and suggests continued innovation within financial services in Ireland. 

Notes to the Editor

  • The consultation opened on 8 November 2023 and closed on 8 February 2024. 
  • During the consultation period, the Central Bank engaged with over 250 individuals and held 26 information sessions with various stakeholders. The consultation was also the focus of an in-depth discussion at the Innovation Subgroup of the Central Bank Industry Forum. 
  • The Central Bank received 27 responses to the consultation, which can be viewed here
  • The Central Bank will conduct broad engagement in preparation of the programme launch and develop appropriate theme(s). Information and updates on all of our innovation engagement facilities can be found here.
  • The Central Bank is committed to providing transparency on outcomes for each programme. The methodology and delivery of the programmes will be subject to regular measurement and reviews to ensure the programme delivers for participants, the Central Bank and the public good. 
  • The Central Bank will continue to produce a yearly Innovation Update report. A review of the enhanced stakeholder engagement model will take place three years after the enhancements have been implemented.