Publication date: January 05, 2024
Access to capital and its acquisition is the key to the development of every enterprise. It may be easier for larger, more established companies to raise capital from investors or obtain additional money from lenders. However, some companies may encounter obstacles that may slow down their growth. This is especially true for small businesses and startups, where crowdfunding can be helpful.
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding involves using small amounts of money from a large number of people to fund a new business. It leverages easy access to vast networks of people through social media and crowdfunding sites to connect investors and entrepreneurs and connect traditional owners, relatives and venture capitalists. It offers the potential to increase entrepreneurship by expanding the pool of investors beyond the circle. Crowdfunding means an alternative form of funding, which is particularly popular among start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises. The main reason for this is the informalization of procedures and high flexibility of operating rules.
First, the person or organization seeking funding creates a detailed description of their project or idea. This includes presenting goals, objectives, schedule and budget. They then choose a crowdfunding platform that meets their goals and principles. The project creator sets a target amount he would like to raise for the project, and this target should include costs associated with the project such as production, marketing and other expenses. After the initial procedures, a crowdfunding campaign will begin, in which there is presented the project using engaging visuals, videos and descriptions to encourage potential sponsors to donate. People interested in the project (supporters) donate money to a given campaign. Crowdfunding platforms usually offer different rewards and incentives depending on the amount of donations. These benefits may include early access to products, special editions or other perks. Crowdfunding campaigns have a specific period during which supporters can donate funds. This period is often limited and ranges from several weeks to several months. It is important to maintain open and transparent communication with supporters throughout the campaign and implementation process. Regular updates on project progress and emerging issues help build public trust.
Crowdfunding has finally been regulated in Polish law and entered into force on July 29, 2022. The provisions of the Act on crowdfunding for business ventures and assistance to borrowers regulate the principles of operation of crowdfunding platforms and define the concept of crowdfunding itself. The most important EU document regulating crowdfunding issues is Regulation 2020/1053/EU, which, together with the above Act, was implemented into Polish law. It covers the issue of crowdfunding platforms operating in the equity space, where investors buy securities (usually shares) issued by project owners in exchange for payments, enabling peer-to-peer financing. Equity (investment) crowdfunding takes place when the founder, in exchange for the monetary remuneration provided, invests an appropriate number of units in the enterprise for mutual benefit. Thanks to this regulation, providers of crowdfunding services for enterprises are free to offer their services within the European Union. At the same time, they must meet the requirements set out in Regulation 2020/1053/EU, including the requirements for traditional capital market institutions, such as brokerage houses and investment fund companies. This includes maintaining an appropriate level of capital, having policies, procedures and internal mechanisms enabling prudent management, identification and ongoing monitoring of operational risks , as well as ensuring an appropriate level of investor protection. The Polish Financial Supervision Authority monitors compliance with these requirements.
After the end of the transitional period, crowdfunding providers must apply the provisions of the Crowdfunding Act and the ECSP Regulation (European Crowdfunding Service Providers). Pursuant to Art. 12 of the ECSP Regulation, after November 10, 2023, all entities that still want to provide crowdfunding services will be required to obtain a new permit issued by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority. The European Securities and Markets Authority “ESMA” maintains a register of entities authorized to provide financial services for business purposes in accordance with the Regulation. This register is available on the ESMA website and is updated regularly. The list shows the type of fund and additional services offered by the crowdfunding service provider. The register also includes a list of countries in which the foundation intends to provide cross-border services. The authority competent to issue the authorization shall ensure that such authorization specifies the crowdfunding services which the crowdfunding service provider is authorized to provide. Pursuant to the provisions of the above-mentioned Act, providers of crowdfunding services can only be legal entities based in the territory of the European Union and authorized to conduct such activities by the competent authority. From the point of view of entrepreneurs, it is important that the provisions of the ECSP Act effectively regulate cross-border business activities. Therefore, the so-called single passport principle was adopted, i.e. a permit issued by a national authority, authorizing the holder to conduct business throughout the EU under the notification procedure. Moreover, from November 10, 2023, the limit on proceeds from bond issues will increase from EUR 2.5 million to EUR 5 million. Public offers not related to a financial platform (with revenues from EUR 2.5 to EUR 5 million) are subject to the obligation to prepare an information document. Project owners who raise money on the crowdfunding platform can raise funds of up to EUR 5 million without having to establish a guarantee.
Crowdfunding is a democratized way for creators to implement their ideas and for individuals to support projects they believe in. It is used in a wide range of endeavors, including product launches, creative works, charitable purposes, and more. Crowdfunding is not only a way to secure financial resources, but a dynamic tool for building a community based on creative ideas.
 Regulation (EU) 2020/1503 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 October 2020 on European crowdfunding service providers for business ventures and amending Regulation (EU) 2017/1129 and Directive (EU) 2019/1937 (OJ UE. L. of 2020, No. 347, page 1, as amended).