Crowdfunding / crowdinvesting / crowdlending
FinTechs belonging to this category operate crowdfunding, crowdinvesting and crowdlending platforms on which money is raised to invest in various projects, mainly start-up companies and real estate projects.
Crowdfunding is not a defined financial service, but generally used to describe donation-based crowdfunding (the investor donates the money to the project), reward-based crowdfunding (the investor receives an often symbolic consideration for his investment), equity-based crowdfunding (crowdinvesting: the investor participates in the profits of the financed project or acquires shares or debt instruments) or lending-based crowdfunding (crowdlending: the investor is reimbursed at the end of the project with or without interest).
Attitude of the country towards crowdfunding, crowdinvesting and crowdlending platforms
The Polish crowdfunding sector continues to grow, especially in the sectors of the donation-based crowdfunding and equity-based crowdfunding. Those sectors are the most popular.
During the outbreak of the pandemic, crowdfunding platforms have significantly supported medical services, local entrepreneurs and NGO charities.
Obligations and requirements to provide crowdfunding, crowdinvesting and crowdlending platforms described above
The main act regulating equity-based and lending-based crowdfunding is Regulation (EU) 2020/1503 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 October 2020 on European crowdfunding providers for business ventures (“Regulation 2020/1503”).
In Poland, the maximum amount that can be obtained under crowdfunding without the obligation to draw up a prospectus, until 10 November 2023, is EUR 2.5 million over a period of 12 months (the threshold of the total value in relation to crowdfunding offers presented by a particular project owner).
Although the Regulation 2020/1503 provides for the need to obtain a license, due to the fact that there are no relevant provisions in Poland for obtaining an appropriate license, crowdfunding providers may provide their services under the existing rules until November 10, 2022 at the latest or until they obtain a license, whichever comes first.
The Financial Supervision Authority (Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego) states that a crowdfunding platform that does not have a license to provide brokerage services as defined in the Act on Trading in Financial Instruments (Ustawa o obrocie instrumentami finansowymi) should organize and conduct its activity in such a way that the actual activities it undertakes do not fall within the scope of such activities. The risk of classifying crowdfunding activities as brokerage activities arises primarily because of the thin line between classifying activities as offering financial instruments and promotional activities which do not require the permission of the Financial Supervision Authority.
Due to the fact that loan crowdfunding is addressed to entrepreneurs and not consumers, Polish law does not provide for special regulations in this regard.
Additional comments regarding the legal situation for crowdfunding, crowdinvesting and crowdlending platforms or what FinTech’s must be aware of in this business area
Currently, there is an ongoing work on the project of the Act on crowdfunding for economic undertakings, which is supposed to regulate the activity of crowdfunding platforms, adjusting the Polish law to the EU legal framework. The project appoints the Financial Supervision Authority as the competent authority to supervise crowdfunding platforms (e.g. issuing authorizations to operate a crowdfunding platform as referred to in Regulation 2020/1503 and the ability to carry out inspections in these entities).
Crowdfunding platforms should operate on the basis of adopted regulations, which include regulations referring directly or indirectly to the provisions of the Act on Rendering Electronic Services (ustawa o swiadczeniu uslug droga elektroniczna). This applies, in particular, to general and specific information obligations, such as clear identification of the service provider or ensuring that the recipient of the service has access to information about risks associated with using the service and its function and purpose.
Market size for crowdfunding, crowdinvesting and crowdlending platforms and biggest companies in this business area
By the end of October 2021, Start-ups had raised nearly PLN 292 million (approx. EUR 61,6 million) from equity crowdfunding issues. The leaders in this group are gaming and IT companies, but it is also an attractive form of raising capital for companies from the medical products, food and renewable energy sectors.
The interest in investment crowdfunding is evidenced by the time it takes attractive companies to reach their financial goals. In February 2021, CanPoland, trading in medical marijuana, raised PLN 4.4 million (approx. EUR 931 thousand) in 11 minutes, setting a Polish record. The sports project KTS Weszlo collected the full amount of PLN 4.5 million (approx. EUR 952 thousand) on the Emiteo.pl platform in less than an hour.
Donation-based crowdfunding is estimated to be worth an absolute record PLN 1.5 billion in 2021. Internet users contributed PLN 239.9 million (approx. EUR 50,8 million) to Zrzutka.pl.
Additional comments regarding the economic situation for crowdfunding, crowdinvesting and crowdlending platforms or what FinTech’s must be aware of in this business area
The high level of awareness of the market itself and of the mechanisms operating on it, as well as the involvement of a large group of Internet users in online promotion, especially in social media, can be considered a new trend in the crowdfunding market in Poland. This was observed in relation to the donation-based crowdfunding during the outbreak of the pandemic (support of medical workers and necessary supplies), as well as nowadays while organizing support for refugees from Ukraine.