Could Crowdfunding Create Competition for Digital SME Lenders?

Crowdfunding is on the rise. A recent report by Statista Digital Market Outlook shows that by 2022, crowdfunding could grow to $57 billion globally, with China being the leader in this area. To put the number in perspective, in 2017 $14.5 billion was raised by crowdfunding. So, $57 billion in a span of four years would be more than triple last year’s amount.

One important reason for the growing popularity of crowdfunding is because of the large underbanked SME population. This is particularly true in a country like China, where many small businesses find it difficult to receive funding from banks or larger financial institutions. Even in the U.S. market, there is a dearth of larger banks and FIs involved in lending to SMEs, which is why digital lenders like BlueVine in the U.S. or the Germany-based Kreditech can carve out niches for themselves.

Even service providers catering to small businesses know there is an opportunity here. Take Intuit, which in November launched its first SME loan product through QuickBooks called QuickBooks Capital. Many fintechs around the world, especially in markets like China, other parts of Asia, and Latin America are taking advantage of this untapped lending market focused on SMEs. Square and PayPal are operating in a similar space.

As for crowdfunding, Statista’s report shows that it is an efficient and less complex way for SMEs to raise funds, without involving lenders. Aside from the shortage of bank lenders in the SME space, another advantage for crowdfunding is that it doesn’t have the complex regulatory requirements that are commonplace in the traditional lending ecosystem. The regulation is coming, as has been seen in the ICO space already in 2018.

Not surprisingly, given the (well-founded) skepticism of the financial services community, crowdfunding has proven to be a great way for companies with blockchain-focused initiatives to raise money.

Among the top ten largest crowdfunds in 2017, one can find the ill-fated DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) ranked first raising $168 million, and digital asset management fintech ICONOMI, ranked number 10 with $10.7 million dollars.

Look at the full report here.

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