The number of FINRA regulated funding portals continues to move higher in advance of the increase in the funding cap of Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg CF). On March 15, 2020, it is expected that issuers will be able to raise $5 million using Reg CF – a significant increase from its current $1.07 million funding cap. Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved a host of updates to the securities crowdfunding ecosystem. You may review all of these changes here. The headline change was enabling issuers to raise $5 million in capital under the Reg CF exemption. This increase has been embraced by both issuers and platforms as smaller firms will now have the opportunity to more easily raise the capital they need instead of the anemic million dollar amount that frequently falls short for a seed round. Platforms are expected to see renewed interest in the exemption and one industry insider predicts that Reg CF funding should top one billion in funding in 2021 due to these changes.
Periodically, Crowdfund Insider reviews the fleet of regulated funding portals, a type of entity created under the JOBS Act of 2012 – sort of like a broker-dealer lite. Since Reg CF became actionable (in 2016) the number of funding portals has continued to inch higher. The last time we reviewed the number of funding portals was in December of 2020. At that time there were 62 funding portals, today that number stands at 67 as five more names were added to the roster. Of note, is the fact that two funding portals have long been suspended by FINRA and should really not be included on the list (FINRA – perhaps you can remove them?). So in actuality, there are 65 platforms.
The number of former platforms that exited the sector, either by choice or by being encouraged by regulators, stands at 14. It must be pointed out that registered Broker-Dealers may issue securities under Reg CF as well and do not need to be approved as a funding portal.
So who is new?
- Bananafina LLC, operating under the domain of equityportal.com is based in the hot startup market of Miami. Still no offerings as of yet but the site is live and accepting emails.
- Crowdsparks Entertainment, Inc. is in California. The domain exists but the site is not really live.
- Fanvestor is up and running but no offerings yet. Operating in San Francisco, Fanvestor is a digital crowdfunding platform where fans can support their favorite media celebrities or influencers.
- Fundify seeks to allow retail investors to participate in offerings alongside experts. Based in Austin, Texas, Fundify has yet to list a securities offering.
- Halal Franchise, LLC is operating under the domain of fursa.capital. This site seeks to enable ethical investments using Halal finance contracts. Today, Fursa has yet to list any securities offerings but it appears to target a range of sectors including real estate and early stage ventures.
The Reg CF sector continues to be dominated by a handful of platforms with StartEngine and Wefunder leading with Republic and SeedInvest in the mix. Of course, past success is no guarantee of future performance and the industry is still very much in its formative years. Most platforms offer securities under other exemptions, most importantly Reg A+ and Reg D. Reg A+ also received some attention from the SEC as the funding cap on this “mini-IPO” type exemption was bumped up from $50 million to $75 million (Tier 2).
Recently, during a crowdfunding discussion on Clubhouse, one prominent industry insider predicted that, over time, the number of funding portals will diminish with a few large platforms emerging as well as a squadron of niche-focused finding a sustainable place. Right now, it is hard to tell how large the market is for early-stage private company investments being pitched to retail investors.
FINRA Regulated Funding Portals March 10, 2021