Title IV has revolutionised the crowdfunding space and the platforms must react accordingly
With title IV of the JOBS Act now active, we take a look at how the platforms are dealing with the changes, and what they expect for the long term. The legislation, which allows firms to take up to $50 million in a 12 month rolling period (subject to auditing checks and approval by the SEC), allows non-accredited investors to invest up to 10% of their income or net wealth.
One platform that has reacted to the change is Onevest, who recently started a Series A crowdfund through its own platform. Tanya Prive (co-founder & CEO) told AltFi that her platform has received a lot of interest in Regulation A+ from investors who had the capital, but were previously prevented from investing as they were not accredited investors. She cited the inefficiency of the previous law, pointing to the fact that only 26 investments have been made through regulation A so far, as opposed to thousands through regulation D. Compare this to WayBetter, whose customers have already indicated $6 million worth of interest for a Regulation A raising in 24 hours on the platform SeedInvest.
Whilst now there is more paperwork for the companies to complete – remember that for companies to take advantage of the legislation change they must be passed as qualified by the SEC. Tanya applauded a “completely new way for privately owned companies to raise capital” and expressed her belief that, once companies have had time to submit their forms and become qualified, the use of Title 4 will dramatically increase the volume that Onevest is experiencing.
Another platform that has jumped at the change in legislation is BankRoll. Set up the very same day as Title IV was implemented, BankRoll is run by two attorneys (Anthony Zeoli and Kendall Almerico) and sees its competitive edge in being able to react to the law change quickly and accurately. Kevin Harrington, who runs StarShop - a start-up that launched with the platform - remarked:
“I wanted to be sure we picked a funding platform that has people who truly understand the legal aspects of this new law”
“Too many of the other platforms out there are run by tech guys who may not understand the law.”
“These companies, and funding platforms that also do not follow the law and the SEC rules, are going to find themselves in huge legal trouble.”
The BankRoll chiefs are hoping to use their legal knowledge to correctly navigate the new legal landscape which the Title IV release has created. This appears a significant challenge, as companies looking to use Regulation A+ enter uncharted territory.
The JOBS Act comes in VII titles and, as not all titles have been passed, more liberalisation of the US crowdfunding sector is coming. Title III (actually named Crowdfunding) is aimed at providing smaller amounts of equity, but with less stringent regulation. Under Title III organisations can raise up to $1,000,000. Investors with an income and net worth under $100,000 may invest up to 5% of income or $2,000. Those with an income above $100,000 may invest up to 10%. Its advantage over the Tier 1 of Title IV offerings is that it is not open to the same reviews and so companies need not spend on auditing and compliance. The intent is to provide access to capital for smaller and younger companies.
The new legislation could well have an impact on the intrastate platforms across America. In response to the long length of time taken to enact the legislation, some states have enacted their own laws. In Texas, for example, the platform Trucrowd has been set up, providing crowdfunding services to the local populace. In Michigan, the M.I.L.E. Act has allowed platforms such as Michigan Funders to provide crowdfunding services. Vincent Petrescu (CEO of TruCrowd) says that Title IV has “no implications” for them, as their platform is aimed at start-ups that need less than $1 million to get started and cannot afford the costs (of around $50,000 to $100,000) for a Regulation A+ raising.
However, the passing of Title III could revolutionise how the intrastate platforms work. Expected to be passed around October 2015 (making transactions legal around the start of 2016), Petrescu added that “Title III might be better than Texas Intrastate Exception…if the regulations will not make it unreasonably costly.” If this is the case, then the passing of Title III may well lead to the expansion of a host of platforms, looking to push their operations beyond their state borders.
The passing of Title IV, from the view point of the platforms, is expected to revolutionise the US crowdfunding space and platforms are reacting accordingly. Furthermore, with title III still to be legislated – it appears that another revolution could be on its way early next year. The completion of the JOBS act may invigorate the American alternative equity market, bringing it up to speed (at least in terms of growth potential) with the alternative lending space.