By Tom R. Wallace
In December 2016 the UK FCA published a statement of its intention to publish a Consultation Paper in Q1 2017 proposing new rules for investment and loan-based crowdfunding platforms.
Based on information the FCA has gathered through a consultation ending in September 2016 and its supervision and authorisation of crowdfunding platforms, the FCA’s view is that aspects of the crowdfunding market currently pose some risks to its objectives. The FCA perceives risk of regulatory arbitrage in the loan-based sector, and potential for investors to misunderstand the nature of the products offered. While respondents to the FCA’s request for feedback rightly note that many of these risks existed when the FCA established the current crowdfunding regulatory framework in 2014, the FCA counters that the market has grown in significance and complexity since then.
While investment-based crowdfunding is facilitated entirely by fully-authorised firms, most loan-based crowdfunding firms, including the largest ones, have so far operated under interim permissions. The FCA notes that, while it has identified some issues about the investment-based crowdfunding market, most of its attention at this time is on issues in relation to loan-based crowdfunding.
Taken together with its other statements on the crowdfunding sector, the FCA is giving an indication of its perspective on the issues associated with the #crowdfunding market and, pending publication of consultations on the new rules, incumbents and innovators should take care to create legal, operational and compliance structures that are likely to align with the FCA’s direction of travel in this market.
The FCA frame this as an evolution of the existing regulatory framework, not a revolution, and I find the FCA’s depth of the knowledge about, objectives for and focus on the market to be a source of optimism for the future of the crowdfunding market in the UK for investors, incumbents and innovators.