Crowdfunding websites clamour for clearer regulation
As well as making sure that individuals are aware of the inherent risk involved with putting money in start-ups, the industry wants to avoid the risk of scams by ensuring that platforms vet businesses adequately.
Lost in the crowd
Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) warned in August that inexperienced investors should be aware of the risks in crowdfunding websites. A few days later United States securities regulators put crowdfunding at the top of their annual investment scams list.
Views differ about how to tackle these risks without stifling an increasingly important source of funding, and the matter is complicated by the varying rules already in place in different countries across Europe.
Measures taken by Seedrs, the only crowdfunding website to have received FSA approval, include requiring investors to pass a test to show that they understand the risks.
"It is hard to come up with a whole securities regulation; sometimes it does have to be a bit incremental and adaptive,"
Seedrs founder Jeff Lynn said. "There is no question at all this is going to be a space that will continue to move."
Some would like the operation of such platforms to be a distinct regulated activity, but others argue for smaller steps, such as a cap on the sums that people can invest or lend.
The British government, keen to improve the flow of finance to small businesses to boost the sluggish economy, has set up a
working group to look at all
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