InnovationHub and Regulatory Sandbox: three years of insights and experiences

Datum 28 augustus 2019

In 2016, DNB and the AFM set up the InnovationHub and the Regulatory Sandbox with the aim of supporting market operators with innovative financial products, services and business models. Since then we have handled over 650 questions. What lessons have we learned?

With the InnovationHub and the Regulatory Sandbox, we support new and existing firms, regardless of whether they are subject to the supervision of the AFM or DNB. The InnovationHub offers accessible and informal support for questions about the application of current supervisory rules and policies to innovative concepts. The Sandbox offers a solution for operators that encounter unnecessarily restrictive supervisory rules or policies for their innovative concepts, despite complying with the underlying principles.

We have gained valuable insights and experiences over the past three years, which we share in the report “Ongoing dialogue. Lessons learned after three years of the InnovationHub and the Regulatory Sandbox”. We also call on market operators to share their ideas on the continuation and further implementation of the InnovationHub and the Sandbox. You can download the report below.


We handled more than 650 questions from market operators about innovation and supervision, which averages about 50 questions per quarter. Over half of these questions came from startups, and many of the questions were about the scope of supervision.

The questions addressed a wide variety of innovative concepts, with particular emphasis on cryptos and the revised European Payment Services Directive (PSD2). On a few occasions we provided tailor-made solutions because the application of current legislation or policies turned out to be unnecessarily constricting, unclear or disproportionate.


The report features nine lessons learned over the past three years. For example, rather than requiring new regulations and policy, most operators are looking for accessible information about how to apply existing regulations and policy to their specific situation. We found that the sheer volume of existing rules and regulations sometimes acts as a barrier to market operators, and also that in some cases the market requires clear answers sooner than we are able to provide. We also found that operators’ expectations and the actual nature of our assistance through the InnovationHub and the Regulatory Sandbox do not always match. Some of them expected to be given free regulatory rein in an experimental setting or accelerator.


Building on these lessons learned, we intend to continue our dialogue with the market in the coming years on how the InnovationHub and the Sandbox can be further improved. To this end, we propose a number of follow-up steps in the report, aimed at providing information, expanding customisation, launching an Innovation Forum (iForum) and strengthening internal dialogue on innovation. We also welcome your input for improvements. Please send your ideas and experiences by email to

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