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A “fintech sandbox” might sound like a harmless idea. It’s not

Last week Kuwait became the latest sandy territory to announce it was setting up a regulatory "sandbox" for fintech companies (following in the footsteps of similarly arenaceous Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Arizona, which earlier this year became the first place in the US to set one up). A regulatory sandbox is a bit like a regular sandbox, except with no sand, no children, and no discernible fun. Instead, it is essentially a programme — normally running for several months — that allows early-stage fintech start-ups to test out their offerings in a limited market environment, under regulatory supervision, but without having to be fully licensed. That might sound pretty harmless. In practice, it's not. Regulators' primary role is to protect consumers — often, ironically, precisely from the kind

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