Portuguese government gets one step closer to approving fintech sandbox
The Portuguese government has published the framework for a regulatory sandbox which will test emerging technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, big data and 5G.
The country’s Council of Ministers published a resolution to establish the general principles “for the creation and regulation” of ‘Technological Free Zones’ – or Zonas Livres Tecnológicas (ZLTs) in Portuguese – which will facilitate the experimentation of new technologies in a real environment.
Last year Pedro Siza Vieira, Portugal’s minister of state, economy and digital transition, said experimenting with new technologies “does not require significant public investment, it just requires that the state be able to create the conditions [in which] companies, research centers and […] scientists test new ideas ”.
The ZLTs, part of the government’s Action Plan for Digital Transition, is aimed at boosting social and economic progress and helping the country transition to a sustainable economy.
The sandbox initiative will involve national and international projects, and whilst fintech start-ups will be benefiting from it, start-ups in other sectors such as autonomous vehicles, health, and agriculture will also be involved.
It says it also plans to “go further” than the “disparate” regulatory sandboxes created in other countries.
“Although a large part of the initiatives that are being developed in other countries are limited to certain sectors – namely fintech – or result in the creation or multiplication of ‘regulatory sandboxes’ without a common legislative or regulatory treatment, they demonstrate that it is urgent that Portugal define an approach that attracts the testing of new technologies,” the resolution reads.
The ZLTs will relax legal frameworks where possible and acknowledges that different sub—category frameworks will need to be developed for each sector’s requirements, led by the member of the government responsible for each sector alongside the relevant national regulator.
The government’s ultimate hope is that this sandbox will increase the “attractiveness of Portugal as a hub to test new technologies”.
As well as outlining the ZLTs, the Portuguese government has also announced a €25 million fund to help its start-ups during coronavirus.