A sandbox, in its literal meaning, is a sandbox designed for the little ones to play. In business jargon, however, the term refers to a deregulated space that serves as a testing ground for companies to test an idea that is not yet regulated or supervised by regulatory institutions. Today, Spain is working to have its first sandbox ready, focused only on the world of fintech. “We are aware, however, that these tools are necessary in all sectors, not just the financial sector” said Ana de la Cueva, Secretary of State for Economy and Business Support yesterday.
The expert participated in a conference organized by the Cotec Foundation
This conference in which the way in which the public sector can pave the way to innovation was addressed. Because without this “there is no competitiveness of the productive sector. We are obliged to update the regulation to lay the foundations of a more modern economy, “he continued, after recognizing that the political landscape of current uncertainty leads to not yet being able to know exactly when this regulatory advance will come to light, which a priori It has a lot of consensus within Congress. In the case of receiving the approval, the CNMV, the Bank of Spain and the General Directorate of Insurance and Pension Funds would be in charge of supervising the projects.
In the opinion of Fanny Solano, director of digital regulation, retail and markets at CaixaBank, this type of progress is really necessary to do everything in a more agile and dynamic way. “In the financial sector we have been launching projects for a long time and slowing them down because the interpretation of the regulators is not favorable,” he continued. These spaces, on which based on pilot tests can be advanced without colliding with the wall of bureaucracy and regulation, are one of the best ways to overcome these obstacles, “and also to convince regulators of how they can be done things better”.
Does the public want to be the protagonist of the change?
Whether or not this type of measure goes forward, said the president of Cotec, Cristina Garmendia, shows if the public sector really wants to be the protagonist of the change. In fact, “if it is not capable of being innovative, we think it will cease to be relevant”. Therefore, as suggested by Ana Valero, director of regulation of Telefónica in Latin America, from time to time you have to take a look at the mirror: “Regulation may be necessary, but sometimes it brings limits and costs. That is why every so often we have to revise it and adapt it to the needs. And that we do little”.
In Latin America, the aforementioned telecommunications company is promoting several sandboxes that make their day-to-day management more agile. In Colombia, for example, where they are obliged to make contact with the customer in person, “we are trying to have a digital interaction. It is something that would suit us and the user, but is not allowed today. Through this tool we can demonstrate why this change is important”.
Another important sector, mobility
Another one of the sectors that demand greater regulatory flexibility is mobility, continued Jaime de Rodríguez, general director in Spain and Germany of Blablacar, one of the companies that, within this industry, is “one of the least controversial”. De Rodríguez recalled that his company, which operates in 22 countries, has encountered legal risks only in Spain precisely because of that lack of updating of the regulatory system. And as an example to follow, he put the sandbox on the table, “although I do not know if it could be called exactly that”, which the French State promoted together with Blablacar and other companies based in Paris. “In a context of transport strike, the city allowed car sharing among employees to get to work. It’s an example of flexibility and adaptation. ”
These formulas, however, go beyond the private sector. The Galician Agency of Innovation, GAIN, dependent on the Xunta, is one of the clearest examples of the things that are being done from the Administration. “We do it through innovative public purchasing” said Patricia Argerey, director of the agency. One of the most striking projects is the one they have carried out with drones, “that monitor the sea, the quality of the waters, the control of pests in forests, firebreaks … Special areas are created in which the drones can fly, and so try to climb the idea later”.
The Correos way
Another initiative, also with drones, is the one that has driven Correos, dependent of SEPI, and that after testing in Navarra and Baleares, ended up settling in Sotres (the highest Asturian town) to help carry the letters in winter, when the roads they froze “In all the sites we have found regulatory caps that make it not yet possible, but we are still trying to develop it,” explained Jordi Escruella, deputy director of innovation for the postal and parcel service operator.
Also published on Medium.