The state of Wyoming is going to be playing in a sandbox this year. 

Actually, it will play in two sandboxes, one for developments in financial technology such as Bitcoins, and the other in Medical Digital Innovation.

Six new state laws went on the books as of January 1, 2020.  Four of them are modifications to existing laws concerning titles of motor vehicles, medical alerts on driver’s licenses, state park vendors, and the Capitol Oversight Commission.

The idea behind the financial technology sandbox is to allow new financial products to be introduced and tested, even if they don’t fall under current regulations. “If you’re an innovative Fintech business and you want to test and develop a new service, the development of technology has outpaced the statutes and the legal framework in place in many states,” said State Representative Bill Henderson (R-41). 

A company that wants to test a new financial or medical product or service puts up a bond and applies for a waiver from specific regulations.  The waiver, if approved, lasts for two years and can be extended to a third year. The financial sandbox is closely monitored by the Banking Commissioner and the Wyoming Secretary of State. 

Henderson said the sandbox idea is timely.  “We have Bitcoins, we have all kinds of crypto currencies that Google and Facebook are talking about – maybe having their own crypto currency,” he said.

Wyoming residents won’t be able to deposit money, get loans, or use the products and services being tested.  That will only be allowed by specific commercial institutions under certain circumstances.

The Medical Digital Innovation sandbox works in a similar fashion.  Companies that want to test new medical products and services can ask for a waiver from existing regulations that may not apply to their developments.  The Wyoming Department of Health supervises the program, and companies have to post a bond before submitting a request for a waiver.

The Medical sandbox covers a wide variety of health care, including dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, physicians, nurses, laboratories, midwives,  and more.

The two sandboxes are a first for Wyoming.  Wyoming was the second state to enact sandbox laws, following Arizona.  Utah has since passed its own sandbox legislation.

Representative Henderson sees the sandboxes as the beginning of a new process.  “Stay tuned.  I think we’re at a point where the sandbox is really the right place or setup for regulatory compliance part of it but also allows the development and testing part of it to occur,” Henderson said.