[FinTech] Barbados launches Regulatory Sandbox

In Barbados, the Financial Services Commission  and the Central Bank have jointly created an important regulation: the Regulatory Sandbox Framework for the Financial Services Sector.

Sandbox Benefits

The no-fluff definition of a regulatory sandbox? A temporary observatory where regulators try to figure out whether a new financial product/service is fish or foul.

Let’s flesh that out a bit.

Where an entity wishes to introduce an innovative financial product or service in Barbados, it may not be immediately clear which regulatory requirements should be complied with. Why? Financial services are regulated by two separate entities: the Central Bank and the FSC. Broadly speaking, the Central Bank regulates banking-type institutions whereas the FSC regulates all other financial service providers (think: insurance companies, credit unions, pension funds etc).

Applying to and being accepted in the Sandbox allows the applicants some well needed regulatory breathing space. In this period, applicants do not need to comply with and be licensed under the regimes of either the FSC or the Central Bank.

Regulatory Review Panel

For the duration of the applicant company’s time in the Sandbox, governance oversight will be provided by the Regulatory Review Panel (RRP). The RRP will be comprised of no less than 3 persons (there is no upper limit on the number of appointees to the RRP). The Director of Finance and Economic Affairs, the Central Bank and the FSC will be responsible for the appointments to the RRP.

The RRP, among many other governance functions, will determine whether the applicant’s product or service should be regulated pursuant to the FSC’s regime or the Central Bank’s. Alternately, the RRP may conclude that the particular product/service being considered is so novel that entirely new legislation is required.

Key Beneficiaries

In practical terms, the kinds of financial products or services most likely to  benefit from sandboxing would be new technology-centric financial service providers a.k.a. FinTech companies. Most FinTech startups tend to focus on disrupting traditional models of operating and will typically employ a combination of novel processes, unconventional business models and innovative products. In doing so, FinTechs will – almost by definition – defy the existing regulatory frameworks which were conceived with the brick-and-mortar realm in mind.

FinTech companies are the primary targets of the Regulatory Sandbox
FinTech companies are the primary targets of the Regulatory Sandbox – Internationalbanker.com photo

More Information

The Sandbox was launched at the end of October 2018 and the main documentation can be found on the websites of both the FSC and the Central Bank.

Charles Leacock Q.C. – Internet Law in Barbados


This is a video recording of a presentation by Charles Leacock, Q.C. on the state of internet laws in Barbados.

The presentation was given at the inaugural Barbados Internet Governance Forum and does an excellent job of outlining the existing digital law legislative framework at play in Barbados. The presentation touches on the:

  • Telecommunications Act;
  • Computer Misuse Act;
  • Electronic Transactions Act;
  • Corporate (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act
  • Copyright Act; and
  • the proposed Privacy and Data Protection Act

Naturally, being the DPP, Mr. Leacock gave prominence to the operation of the Computer Misuse Act which criminalises certain activities effected via a computer system.

This is a very useful video if you are interested in coming up to speed quickly on the overall state of the law in Barbados. Other video recordings of presentations made at the inaugural Barbados IGF may be accessed here.

End note: Mr. Leacock was, at the time of the presentation, the Director of Public Prosecutions for Barbados. Sadly, shortly after this presentation, he passed away. May he rest in peace.