Crowdfunding has become all the rage, and it's making some banks nervous about losing small business clients. But investUP, a "supermarket of crowdfunding platforms" that launched during Finovate Europe in London this week, thinks banks can benefit from the trend.
InvestUp consolidates crowdfunding sites and businesses looking for investment on one platform, allowing investors a bird's eye view of the market. The UP platform allows investors to search for deals, invest straight from its site and manage their investments. UP is completely free for investors to use.
The London-based company is currently running pilots with two of the top six banks in the U.K., allowing the banks to resell business loans to the crowd, said James Tuckett, managing director at the startup, during an interview at Finovate on February 11.
For example, a bank's business client may come back to ask for another loan but the risk department at the bank says the bank can't lend more to the client. Traditionally banks would lend the money and resell the loan to another bank, but investUP offers banks a quicker and more cost-effective method for selling loans. investUP plans on taking 0.5 to 1% of any loan that's moved onto the platform.
"It's a slower process for banks to sell loans to other lenders...we're allowing the banks to compete with these peer-to-peer sites," Tuckett said.
Currently, investUP is partnered with 13 crowdfunding sites. The company works with Mangopay, a payments API provider for marketplaces and crowdfunding platforms.
And investUP believes in the crowdfunding boom. In 2012, the company crowdfunded itself into existence through CrowdCube for about $231,000. Two years later, investUP participated in the London-based Startupbootcamp accelerator.
Both in the U.K. and in the U.S., the crowdfunding market is expanding dramatically. The market in the U.K. is expected to increase by about $6.78 billion this year, according to research from Nesta, an independent charity in the U.K. that pushes forward innovation.
The benefits of crowdfunding are still being realized, but on top of that there has been some negative media attention, with investors losing money on runaway businesses that don't deliver the product promised.
Because of this, many governments are looking at ways to regulate the industry.
The Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K. has been pretty open-minded in terms of regulating crowdfunding, said Tuckett. The FCA "has a whole team specializing in this," he said.
investUP has been working with regulators for more than a year to figure out the regulatory requirements that should fall on peer-to-peer platforms like crowdfunding sites. The company applied for a license in October.
The U.K. government has offered an April 2016 grace period for crowdfunding sites to comply with the regulatory requirements for debt, equity, bonds and the safeguarding and administration of assets, said Tuckett.