Earlier this year, Attorney General Mark Brnovich spearheaded a campaign to put Arizona on the tech map with the nation’s first-ever Fintech sandbox. The “regulatory sandbox” opened its doors by offering an opportunity for multiple industries to stretch their wings and test out technologies with fewer regulatory hurdles. Startups and entrepreneurs with innovative tech ideas pounced and those in the Fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrency industries are looking to Arizona as a golden opportunity to expand their products and reach.
Now, the AG’s office is touting news of the sandbox’s first participant, Omni Mobile Inc., a mobile payment platform that hopes to test cheaper and faster payment transfers with its centralized wallet infrastructure.
Under the guidelines of the Fintech sandbox, Omni will test out its product onsite at the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort in Tucson. The company will focus on how it can continue to not only test, but perfect its mobile payment processing, an industry set for exponential growth year-over-year, and one that is finding a foothold in the state.
The Fintech sandbox, and Arizona’s developing role as a tech haven, has garnered plenty of attention in recent months. Just last month, representatives from the state went to London to work with and convince British Fintechs considering new locations for their U.S. offices to set up shop here.
Also, a delegation of Arizona leaders met with international tech companies at the recent Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas, touting the first in the nation program.
What’s more, the attorney general’s office recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between his office and the Taiwan Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) that would strengthen cooperation between the Arizona Sandbox and Taiwan’s similar program already in place.
Is Arizona the new Silicon Valley?
“What’s going on in Austin or Seattle is wonderful, but I think slowly but surely what we’re doing is equally attractive to businesses,” says John Ragan, CEO of InvisionAZ and Chief Operating Officer of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in comparison to other parts of the country with established tech roots. “I think opportunities like the Sandbox are the kinds that are attracting businesses that never considered Arizona. Without these policies, these businesses wouldn’t even be looking.”
The Fintech Sandbox was launched this past August and is set up to entice entrepreneurs and tech companies to test out products and services with a more laidback regulatory environment. So far, there have been several applications from startups and entrepreneurs that have come in and the AG’s office is still evaluating which ones to allow to test out their work here. Ragan agrees that this is only the beginning of what’s to come in the state and the industry.
“This is sort of one leg in the stool that could attract more and more tech businesses to Arizona. Finance or operations could be here and it could give way to very good progression,” adds Ragan.
Those who partake in Omni’s testing will receive a disclosure agreement, an explanation of the nature of the product testing, and the opportunity to opt out of any information sharing with Wyndham. Like all companies invited to test out their products in the sandbox, Omni will have a two-year window from the date of its initial launch to test things out.