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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

North Carolina creates regulatory sandbox

State Issues State Legislation Fintech Regulatory Sandbox North Carolina

State Issues

On October 15, the North Carolina governor signed HB 624, which creates a regulatory sandbox program and establishes the North Carolina Innovation Council (Council). Under the North Carolina Regulatory Sandbox Act of 2021, participants will have 24 months from the date an application is approved (unless granted an extension) to test an innovative product or service on consumers in the state without being subject to state laws and regulations that normally would regulate such products or services. The waiver “shall be no broader than necessary to accomplish the purposes” established under the Act. The Act notes that legislative findings determined that existing legal and regulatory frameworks restrict innovation because they “were established largely at a time when technology was not a fundamental component of industry ecosystems, including banking and insurance,” and that innovators would benefit from a flexible regulatory regimen to test new products, services, and emerging technologies. In addition, the Council will provide support for innovation, encourage participation in the regulatory sandbox, and set standards, principles, guidelines, and policy priorities for the types of innovations supported by the regulatory sandbox. The Council will also be responsible for admission into the regulatory sandbox and for assigning selected participants to the appropriate state agency. The program stipulates that innovative products or services may only be offered to state residents, with the exception of products and services associated with a money transmitter, “in which case only the physical presence of the consumer in the [s]tate at the time of the transaction may be required.” The program also allows participants and the applicable state agency to mutually agree to an extension or an increase in the numbers of consumers or dollar limits for a particular product or service. Among other things, participants may also request an extension of not more than 12 months to obtain a license or other authorization required by law to continue to market the product or service.  The Act is effective immediately.

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