In the Year of the Goat, Asia Pacific crowdfunding is awakening
By Crowdfundvibe Editor
Back in July 2013, Fortune magazine published an article lamenting the slow growth of crowdfunding in Asia. Wind forward 18 months or so and it is clear that the region is now making strides to catch up with the rest of the world. There are a number of significant global platforms setting up branch offices in the region and local crowdfunding platforms are established in most major countries. Several crowdfunding conferences have generated significant interest in the field and a series of governments are looking at changing their securities laws to authorise equity crowdfunding. Indeed with the continued delay in crowdfunding rule-making under the JOBS Act in the United States, the region is now moving more quickly than North America in this area.
Global Platforms seeing opportunities
To capitalise upon the economic growth of the region, a number of established global platforms are moving to establish their presence in Asia. Pozible has set up offices in Singapore, Malaysia and China. StartSomeGood has now has regional representatives. FundedByMe has established a branch in Singapore. CrowdCube is developing joint ventures with partners in Australia & New Zealand. Indiegogo is open to projects from most countries (although there are restrictions for Paypal use from this region) and Kickstarter now accepts projects from Australia and New Zealand.
Solid Local Platforms
Most countries in the region now also have a local crowdfunding platform that provides either rewards crowdfunding, donation crowdfunding or both. Platforms like Crowdonomic from Singapore, pitchIN from Malaysia, Fringebacker from Hong Kong, The Spark Project and Ideacamp from the Philippines, Flying V from Taiwan and Kitabisa from Indonesia are adapting the international crowdfunding model to their own countries and making their own mark. In India there are a number of active platforms such as Wishberry, Catapooolt, Start51, BitGiving, The Hot Start, Ketto and Milaap, which are establishing a vibrant new sector and way of raising funds. Japan, Korea and China have a good number of well established platforms such as Campfire, DemoHour and Dreamore. Likewise Australia and New Zealand have seen consolidation by existing platforms like ASSOB, Pozible, iPledg, GiveNow, Givealittle and Pledgeme, as well as a steady flow of new platforms such as Chuffed, OzCrowdfunding and Set In Motion. There are also a number of interesting niche offerings emerging in the region such as CoAssets in the real estate crowdfunding space, Publishizer for books, IconPark in the field of hospitality and Star Stadium & Thrill Capital for sporting endeavours.
Having developed hybrid solutions to the current regulatory environment, there are already a number of platforms in the equity crowdfunding space such as Investable and Big Colors from Hong Kong, and Venture Crowd and Fat Hen from Australia.
Governments are moving to authorise equity crowdfunding
The strong interest in crowdfunding in the region can be seen through the activities of governments. The New Zealand government legalised equity crowdfunding in April last year and there have been a series of successful equity raises there in recent months by Pledgeme and Snowball Effect. Japan, China & recently Malaysia have also authorised equity crowdfunding. India, Singapore, Thailand, Korea and Australia are also actively looking at changing their securities laws as well and have released discussion papers or draft legislation to help them finalise their regulatory settings.
In contrast to the US, where the debate is over the form of its crowdfunding rules, and if the regulatory settings will actually support a viable sector, Asia-Pacific governments seem to be just getting on with it.
Coming together to discuss crowdfunding: an active conference scene
The increase in the level of interest in crowdfunding can also be seen through conference activity. Singapore based Crowdweek has featured a day on crowdfunding in its conferences for the past few years. Over the past 8 months there have been a series of events dedicated to just crowdfunding such as Crowdfunding Asia, EPIC and INITIATE. In the just the next two months there will be five crowdfunding conferences in the region: in the Philippines, India, New Zealand, China and Indonesia, with further events in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Australia later in the year.
Speaking recently at the opening of the Crowdfunding Asia Thailand Summit, Secretary General of the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr Vorapol Socatiyanurak, recognised that “Crowdfunding provides innovators and entrepreneurs with accessibility to financial resources more easily than traditional loans from financial institutions…” He went on to outline the role this new form of funding could play to help Thailand develop beyond its ‘middle income trap’.
The Asia Pacific region is diverse and as the Fortune article mentions, there are cultural issues to navigate. This notwithstanding, the level of activity in the region highlights the opportunities its officials and entrepreneurs are now seeing with crowdfunding. Let’s see what the Year of the Goat holds …