Florida could become one of the first states in the nation to establish a financial technology sandbox, providing what supporters say would be a welcoming business environment for technology entrepreneurs.
Florida House Bill 1391, creating a fintech sandbox, has advanced in two Florida legislative committees, said Jason Holloway, CEO of St. Petersburg-based fintech consulting firm DLT Consulting Inc. and a member of the Florida Blockchain Task Force. The bill still needs approval from a third committee before moving to the full House for debate, he said.
A fintech sandbox would give regulatory flexibility to companies to experiment and create new innovative products, financial or otherwise, Holloway said during a Feb. 20 program organized by BlockSpaces at Embarc Collective in Tampa.
“The reason some startups are hesitant to come to Florida is sometimes [new technologies] aren’t completely outlined. They hire a lobbying firm or a legal firm, sit down with the regulators, but the regulators don’t really know. They say, ‘You can try. It might be illegal. We don’t know,’” Holloway said. “Everything is so innovative it’s almost like the law hasn’t caught up yet. It’s a gray area. The sandbox allows you to sit down one-on-one with the regulators and say, this is what we want to do, these are the steps we want to take. They’ll say, we think you can, this is what you can do and if you mess up somehow, it’s OK. That’s why we have the sandbox, we know you’re not trying to scam people if it didn’t work out.
“It’s giving us an outlet to have new innovative companies come in and try things that right now they’re scared to do.”
The measure is a priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who last year announced several initiatives to encourage fintech companies to start, relocate and expand in Florida. The fintech sandbox legislation would allow the Office of Financial Regulation to provide statutory authority to waive certain licensure requirements for fintech companies to offer innovative services in Florida within certain parameters, providing more opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in Florida, while ensuring OFR has sufficient authority to protect consumers, a news release from the governor’s office said.