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Blogs - The M&A Perspective

Equity Crowdfunding Platforms - The Future of Early Stage Venture Capital?

02.10.2014 – Generally speaking, crowdfunding is the raising of money from a huge number of people to fund a project or a business. Equity crowdfunding involves supporters making contributions by way of a convertible loan or for a direct equity stake in the business. Today, specialized crowdfunding platforms allow entrepreneurs to easily reach potential investors who might be interested in purchasing equity in their privately-held business. In 2013, the global online crowdfunding industry is said to have raised USD 5.1 billion for thousands of businesses, charities, and startups.

In Switzerland, online equity crowdfunding could be one way to efficiently match capital requirements of entrepreneurs and investment opportunities and to alleviate the limited availability of early stage financing. From a legal perspective, equity crowdfunding generally and crowdfunding platforms in particular raise a number of complex legal issues, not least the question of applicable law in an international context. In Switzerland, depending on the structuring of the investment process, several financial market regulations may apply. However, contrary to the US or the UK, the Swiss legislator and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) have not yet specifically addressed equity crowdfunding. As equity crowdfunding could be very useful in the Swiss venture capital world, the challenge in the future will be to provide sufficient investor protection and at the same time to avoid stifling the industry by overregulation.