crowdfunding

COREPER Publishes Position on European Crowdfunding Service Providers

 

On June 26, a press release was published by the Council of the EU’s Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER). COREPER has agreed its position relating to the proposed Regulation on European crowdfunding service providers and the proposed Directive making consequential amendments to the MiFID II Directive (2014/65/EU).

The press release states that the EU is setting out a new regulatory framework for the operation of crowdfunding platforms. The new framework will make it easier for crowdfunding platforms to provide their services across the EU. It harmonizes the minimum requirements on these platforms when operating in their home market and other EU countries. The proposal also increases legal certainty by harmonizing investor protection rules.

COREPER’s position

  • removes barriers for crowdfunding platforms operating across borders;
  • provides tailored rules for EU crowdfunding businesses depending on whether they provide their funding in the form of a loan or an investment (through shares and bonds issued by the company that raises funds);
  • provides a common set of prudential, information and transparency requirements to ensure a high level of investor protection; and
  • defines common authorization and supervision rules for national competent authorities.

According to COREPER’s position, the proposal covers crowdfunding campaigns of up to €8 million over a 12-month period as a general rule. Where member states have decided to set the threshold for prospectus obligations below €8 million, they should be able to prohibit the raising of capital for crowdfunding projects from its residents for amounts exceeding that national threshold. Larger operations are regulated by MiFID and the prospectus regulation. Reward- and donation-based crowdfunding fall outside the scope of the proposal since they cannot be regarded as financial services.

EBA Opinion on Regulation of EU Lending-Based Crowdfunding

On February 26, 2015, the European Banking Authority (“EBA“) published an opinion on lending-based crowdfunding. The opinion notes that certain Member States (France, Italy, Spain and the UK) have created specific regulations to address risks arising from crowdfunding. Italy’s regulation only covers investment-based crowdfunding. In Spain, the draft law in the final approval stages. The EBA concludes that the convergence of practices across the EU for the supervision of crowdfunding is desirable in order to avoid regulatory arbitrage, create a level playing field, ensure that market participants can have confidence in crowdfunding, and contribute to the single European market.

The EBA considers that crowdfunding, whilst still at an early stage, should be regulated by existing legislation, the most relevant being the Payment Services Directive (the “Directive“), but acknowledges that the lending aspects of crowdfunding are not regulated by EU law.

The EBA also stated that the business models of lending-based crowdfunding platforms do not fall inside the perimeter of credit institutions with the result that funds provided by lenders to crowdfunding platforms would not qualify as deposits eligible for protection under a deposit guarantee scheme, representing a further risk to lenders.  Opinion.

European Commission Consults on Crowdfunding

On October 3, the European Commission published a consultation paper on crowdfunding in the EU alongside a set of FAQs.  In launching the consultation, the Commission aims to explore how EU action could promote crowdfunding in Europe.  A range of soft-law measures, such as awareness raising, public funding and coordination of self-regulatory or national regulatory best practices will be considered.  Responses can be submitted via an online questionnaire until December 20, and the consultation closes on December 31. Consultation PaperFAQs.

The JOBS Act

On March 27, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the JOBS Act). The Act had already passed the Senate and the President is expected to sign the Act shortly. The Act lifts the ban on “general solicitation and general advertising” for Rule 144A and certain Reg. D offerings, expands the Reg. A safe harbor limit from $5 million to $50 million and, in certain cases, raises the cap from 500 to 2,000 of the number of shareholders a company may have before it must register. The Act will also permit companies to raise up to $1 million in small amounts within any 12-month period without registering (“crowdfunding“). Finally, the Act creates the concept of an “emerging growth company” – generally companies with annual gross revenue of less than $1 billion – and relieves these companies from certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Most of the Act’s provisions, including the changes to Rule 144A and Reg. D, will become effective upon the effectiveness of rules to be adopted by the SEC.  Full text of the Act could be found here.