In recent years, the financial sector has undoubtedly experienced a rise in crowdfunding services. Nonetheless, despite its popularity, this alternative method of raising capital, or venture, or cause by gathering small amounts of money from a large number of individuals remained unregulated throughout the European Union (“EU”) until 2021.
Due to the lack of harmonised regulation, the EU was triggered to implement a uniform legislative framework for the provision of investment-based and lending-based crowdfunding services related to business financing, as well as for ensuring the protection of investors, which can be summarised in the European Crowdfunding Service Provider Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2020/1503 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 October 2020 on European Crowdfunding service providers for business, and amending Regulation (EU) 2017/1129 and Directive (EU) 2019/1937) (hereinafter referred to as “ECSP Regulation”, “ECSPR”, and the “Regulation”). Thus, eliminating one of the biggest hurdles faced by crowdfunding platforms – offering their services across borders.
The Regulation thus allows platforms to apply for an EU Passport based on a single set of rules, which facilitates offering services across the EU with a single authorisation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, investors on crowdfunding platforms, will benefit from an aligned and enhanced investor protection framework, based on:
- clear rules on information disclosures for project owners and crowdfunding platforms;
- rules on governance and risk management for crowdfunding platforms; and
- strong and harmonised supervisory powers for national authorities overseeing the functioning of crowdfunding platforms.
On the 14th July 2023, the Crowdfunding Service Providers Act (Act no. XXV of 2023) was enacted with the purpose of implementing the relevant provisions of ECSPR. Aimed to be read in conjunction with the ECSP Regulation (including any Implementing and Regulatory Technical Standards issued therefrom), the Malta Financial Services Authority had also published Rules back in 25th January 2022, entitled Crowdfunding Rules. The Crowdfunding Rules serve to provide further detail to the requirements laid down in the Regulation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.