Crowdfunding: Concept, Problems, Regulation
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Szkoła Główna Handlowa w Warszawie
Komisja Europejska
Submission date: 2017-08-10
Acceptance date: 2018-01-24
Publication date: 2018-03-31
GNPJE 2018;293(1):59-86
The objective of this paper is to look into crowdfunding as a new way of providing funding to those in need. The author also evaluates the need for regulating crowdfunding in the European Union. The analysis makes use of the concept of two-sided markets [Rochet and Tirole, 2004], and it also refers to institutional economics for its theoretical framework. When discussing the benefits and risks of crowdfunding, I underline the substantial risk faced by investors. Often, due to the use of a business model in which their decisions are replaced by the platform, they cannot protect themselves against risk. As to small and medium-sized enterprises, besides the benefits of easier and possibly cheaper access to funds, I underline the importance of negative selection and moral hazard, which are detrimental not only to the investors, but also to the fundraisers. Additionally, the features of investors (who often make emotional decisions) and of platforms (liquidity risk and risk of default) amplify the risks for business participants, including SMEs as fundraisers. The substantial asymmetry of the negotiating power of the platform over other participants and the divergence of their interests-considering that the platform is much less exposed to financial risk than the investors-creates a specific institutional situation that prevents spontaneous adjustment of the rules governing the functioning of a platform to the diverging interests of participants. In this context, I reflect on the need for future harmonised regulation of crowdfunding in the European Union. I particularly highlight the need to regulate loan-based crowdfunding, which is the least regulated form of crowdfunding at the national level. Besides the protection of investors, which is already addressed by national regulations in most member countries, the issue of protection of fundraisers should also be given due attention.
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