SEC Office of Small Business Advocate – One of Top 10 Fintech News Events in 2016

I am proud to be a part of one of the Top 10 Fintech News Events of 2016 – HR 3784 – SEC Office of Small Business Advocate:

Top Fintech Stories from Crowdfund Insider during 2016




As one year comes to end it is a good opportunity to reflect on past events. The preceding 12 months have been a momentous period for internet finance including capital formation online. Fintech started as a curiosity that engendered much excitement – and fear for some. Disruptive finance is now quickly becoming mainstream as all finance migrates online to be managed, monitored and leveraged for all types of services.  We expect more of the same with some twists for 2017 but today we are reviewing some of the larger stories that occurred during the last year. Below is a small selection of some of the top stories published on Crowdfund Insider during 2016.

Boxing FightGust Wins Crowdfunding Patent Infringement Case Against AlphaCap Ventures

This is a big win for the entire US crowdfunding industry.

Gust founder David Rose took the gloves off and went to war against a patent troll and won.  AlphaCap Ventures, a company created to defend a spurious patent on crowdfunding, not only lost the case but was assessed attorneys fees and court costs. Ouch. Kudos to Gust. The entire crowdfunding industry owes you a debt of gratitude (drinks on us in 2017).

FINRA Expels Crowdfunding Portal UFP (uFundingPortal)

This was actually a series of articles as uFundingPortal filed numerous, questionable Reg CF offers only to disappear from the ranks of approved platforms in November.

FINRA later clarified why uFundingPortal got the proverbial ax. The expulsion came as no surprise to many industry participants and now stands as a point of caution for other regulated crowdfunding portals.

office-of-small-business-advocateSEC Small Business Advocate Signed into Law

First proposed on the pages of Crowdfund Insider, the Small Business Advocate will now play a role in advocating on behalf of all small businesses within the halls of the SEC.

Signed into law by President Obama as part of a flurry of last-minute acts of legislation that had broad bi-partisan support, contingent upon the person who holds the office – this could be a turning point in defending the needs of SMEs. Too frequently the SEC has addressed the issues surrounding the largest companies to the detriment of smaller firms. The Small Business Advocate will now be in a position to assist the true engines of the US economy – SMEs (and that is good for us all).

FCA Publishes Interim Report on Crowdfunding Regulatory Update

The UK has been lauded as the gold-standard in crafting a forward-thinking regulatory approach when it comes to internet finance. The interim report indicates that additional rules are on the way. Depending on how it all shakes out, the UK may continue its reign as the Fintech capitol. More in the coming months.

sorry-we-are-closed-small-towns-merchantsOnline Lender DealStruck Shuts Down

Big news in a not so positive way.

As the online lending industry struggled to regain its footing after a tumultuous year, DealStruck saw its funding channel dry up and thus was compelled to close its doors. A shudder went through the entire online lending sector.

Indiegogo Enters Equity Crowdfunding

Anticipated for quite some time, the second largest rewards-based platform pushed into equity crowdfunding in a partnership with MicroVentures. Indiegogo’s move was viewed as further validation of the new form of online capital formation. The first four deals listed on the platform quickly hit their funding targets as Indiegogo predicted rapid growth in 2017.

donald-trump-20-dollars-moneyDonald Trump Elected President

The election of Donald Trump as President will have a profound impact across all manners of policy.  Fintech may benefit from his opinion that excessive regulation has stifled economic growth harming business (both large and small) and consumers alike. With the change in government 2017 is poised to be an interesting year.

France Arc du Triomphe ParisFrance Enlarges the Scope of Crowdfunding by Boosting Cap to €2.5 Million

France displayed a very encouraging ability to work with the emerging investment crowdfunding industry by listening to the advice of industry participants.  The increase in the funding cap came 2 years after the first French regulations were revealed. US policy makers could learn something by this relatively quick action in improving access to capital and thus helping boost the nascent industry.

FIntech Proptech Regtech Insurtech LawtechInsurtech will be the Next Big Thing

The insurance industry is an old lumbering giant that is in dire need of an update and a tech refresh. It is finally happening with entrants like Lemonade and Metromile. More to follow.

The UK Financial Conduct Authority and Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) Collaborate on Regulatory Review

CCAF has been a leader in global Fintech research with its regional reports on the rise of intenet finance. The fact they are working with a government agency in a regulatory review is not only a “first” but should help provide some balance in the final outcome of forthcoming rule changes.

Canada Sign Post Provinces Cottage LifeNational Crowdfunding Association of Canada Hammers Regulatory Approach

The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA) hammered the country’s regulatory approach to internet finance in a strongly worded letter to the Alberta Securities Commission. Earlier in the year, one prominent industry participant labeled the Canadian regulatory environment a “mess.” It appears the constructive criticism is having an effect as Ontario has acknowledged that Fintech demands a new approach.

European Union Stops Harmonization Process for Crowdfunding Rules

At least they are being honest. The EU admitted that harmonized investment crowdfunding rules just weren’t going to happen.

Jeff LynnSeedrs Delivers an Estimated IRR of 14.4%

Transparency is paramount in the emerging investment crowdfunding sector. Publishing honest and understandable return estimates are something every platform should eventually provide for investors. Seedrs published a report that was created with the assistance of Ernst & Young thus increasing the credibility of the numbers. Hopefully, other platforms will eventually follow suit.

China (Finally) Issues Online Lending Rules

China is the largest online lending market in the world. The industry rose to prominence as borrowers needed access to capital and the state-based banks were ill-equipped to provide it. The rapid growth was matched by rampant fraud as too many investors were fleeced and platforms failed. The new rules may bring a semblance of order to the huge Chinese internet finance sector.

First Three Months of Crowdfunding Under Reg CF Deliver Promising Results

CCA and several other platforms like NextGen have published reports on a rolling basis of the emerging Reg CF securities crowdfunding industry. The first CCA report showed a “healthy start” allaying fears that Reg CF wouldn’t generate significant momentum out of the gate.

Fundrise Pivoted and Became a Real Estate Platform for eREITS Instead of Single Properties.

Fundrise, the first real estate crowdfunding platform to launch in the US, revamped their model as an issuer of eREITs using the updated securities exemption Reg A+. And it is working too. Fundrise now has 5 different eREITs seeking $50 Million from investors. The first two have sold out.

Brewdog-Vladamir-James WattBrewDog Launches US Equity Crowdfunding Offer Under Reg A+

Perennial crowdfunding company BrewDog is setting up shop in the US. The craft brewer has selected Columbus, Ohio as the location for their first international brewery. As part of the expansion, BrewDog is offering US investors the chance to own shares, along with some perks, in the iconoclastic company.  While the EquityforPunks offer is not doing as well as the UK version, thousands of US investors have indicated their interest in owning shares in BrewDog USA.

The craft brewer has selected Columbus, Ohio as the location for their first international brewery. As part of the expansion, BrewDog is offering US investors the chance to own shares, along with some perks, in the iconoclastic company.  While the EquityforPunks offer is not doing as well as the UK version, thousands of US investors have indicated their interest in owning shares in BrewDog USA.

Singapore Wants to Own Fintech

The Asian economic powerhouse of Singapore has decided the Fintech is of strategic importance to their economy. Once they figured that out the country launched multiple initiatives to power their resolve to become the Asian capital of Fintech. And perhaps the world.

Dollar Shave Club Investors Love UsDollar Shave Club Sells for One Billion Dollars

If investment crowdfunding is to be successful investors need to generate solid returns. AngelList, ostensibly the largest investment crowdfunding platform in the world, helped to accomplish just that. Dollar Shave Club, a company that raised capital via an AngelList syndicate, sold to Unilever for $1 billion. Early investors in Dollar Shave Club rejoiced.

Additionally, AngelList disclosed that from 2013 to 2015 the platform generated an estimated IRR of 45% after fees and carry.  That’s pretty awesome.

Goldman Sachs Launches Bespoke Online Lending Platform Marcus

As many online lenders retrenched, the most prominent investment bank in the world shunned partnerships and launched their own online lending platform.

Crowdcube Launches Self-Crowdfunding Round that Jumps the €5 Million Hurdle

Dog fooding equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube launched an offer for a stake in their company that hurdled the €5 million mark.  Part funding round and part proof of concept, the UK-based Crowdcube proved that issuers could raise more than the mandated limit by filing a prospectus. Expect other companies to follow.

Broken EuropeBrexit

The UK’s decision to depart the European Union shook the world.  While most UK Fintech participants adamantly supported Bremain – others believed it was a good thing. The country is now doing its best to remain the entrepreneurial capital of Europe. The Jury remains out on the final economic impact.

Title III, Reg CF Crowdfunding Launches in May

After years bureaucratic delay, the SEC finally allows investment crowdfunding to take place under Title III of the JOBS Act of 2012, now referred to as Reg CF. While deemed viable, most industry participants pointed to profound shortcomings in the final rules.

Lendit Problem Renaud LaplancheLending Club CEO and Founder Renaud Laplanche Resigns. Online Lending Industry Falls into Disarray.

Former Lending Club CEO and founder Renaud Laplanche departed the largest marketplace lending club under a cloud of controversy.  Viewed as an iconic leader of a sector of finance that he helped to create, the entire online lending industry suffered as investors ran for the door.

Jack Lew Game of ThronesUS Regulators Decide it is Time to Better Understand Online Lending Causing Fear of More Regulations

The US has created the most convoluted and confusing financial regulatory system in the world. It is not just the cornucopia of federal agencies that have a stake in the game. Each and every state needs to justify their import as well. Every time a bureaucracy says we are from the government and we are here to help private industry shudders with fear – even more so when it comes to financial services. Unfortunately, the cost of regulatory overreach is ultimately born by the consumer.

NextSeed Becomes First Approved Reg CF Platform Ushering in a New Era of  Finance

NextSeed was the first funding portal to receive FINRA regulatory approval. Previously active in the intrastate crowdfunding arena (Texas), NextSeed helped to usher in a new era of investment crowdfunding with its debt focused platform.

The Fix Crowdfunding Act Seeks to Improve Reg CF but Falls Short of Expectations

The Fix Crowdfunding Act, created by Congressman Patrick McHenry, sought to address many of the incumbent issues of Reg CF. Unfortunately, by the time the bill hit the House floor, it was largely gutted as timid House Representatives fumbled an opportunity to improve on the exemption.

Jon MedvedOurCrowd Continues to Deliver Exits for Early Stage Investors

Global investment crowdfunding platform OurCrowd registered its 5th exit in the spring of 2016 as Replay Technologies was scooped up by Intel. Mark Cuban was an investor in the company. Since that date, it has tallied five more.  While not disclosing exact returns to investors, OurCrowd is very happy with the results generated by their platform.

While not disclosing exact returns to investors, OurCrowd is very happy with the results generated by their platform.

Mondo Bank Raises £1 Million in Blistering 96 Seconds

Mondo schooled the crowdfunding world in how to raise money online super fast. The digital challenger bank raised £1 million in 96 seconds on Crowdcube. If you blinked, you missed out.

Unhappy Balloon SadThe Second Largest Rewards-Based Crowdfunding Campaign of All Time, Coolest Cooler, is No Longer Cool

Coolest Cooler raised an astounding $13 million on Kickstarter several years back. The money ended up not being enough to fully fund the project and deliver on promised rewards to backers. Besides leaving thousands of supporters disgruntled, the project delivered a painful black eye to the rewards sector of crowdfunding.

Report Says Fintech Growth is Slowing. Other Reports Disagree

Fintech, or financial services innovation, has grown rapidly in the past several years.  One recent report published by consulting groups KPMG and CBInsights stated this growth is slowing. Other reports have countered this sentiment. A report by Innovate Finance released in the fall said Fintech growth continues to boom. So which is it? Regardless of quarterly variations, Fintech growth will continue unabated (Just our $0.02).

Orchard Says 2016 Will Be Different for Marketplace Lending

Orchard Platform, the fulcrum of online lending, nailed it in early 2016 when they stated things were going to be different for the sector of finance as opposed to previous years. They probably had no idea at the time, how right they were.

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