[Updated in August 2018] With global transaction value set to go above UD$9bn in 2018 according to Statista, the huge growth in the popularity of crowdfunding seems unlikely to end. A predicted 29% CAGR will see the industry hit US$25bn by 2022.
This growth, coupled with increased acceptance of crowdfunding as a legitimate fund-raising strategy, is creating exciting opportunities for new crowdfunding platforms in a wide range of industries.
Launching Your Own Debt / P2P Lending Crowdfunding Platform
Creating your own crowdfunding platform is a highly effective way to connect investors with opportunities in your industry. They’re more than just good business: crowdfunding platforms are an opportunity to shape the future of your industry by helping worthy projects find motivated backers.
Platforms normally offer one or more types of crowdfunding to their partners: equity crowdfunding, debt crowdfunding, and industry-specific crowdfunding.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most important factors to consider when building a platform for debt crowdfunding.
If you are not sure if debt crowdfunding is the right for you, you can discover other types of crowdfunding platforms here.
Why Debt Crowdfunding?
One of the most popular options is debt crowdfunding, also known as peer-to-peer lending. This allows groups of individuals or institutional lenders to lend funds to individuals or businesses in return for the principal plus interest payments.
Businesses benefit from this type of funding because they can avoid giving away equity, which may be either impossible or undesirable, while also lowering their cost of finance.
Debt crowdfunding isn’t just good for those borrowing money, it’s also beneficial to investors, because they can lend smaller amounts to many different businesses or individuals. This enables them to spread their risk while still receiving a competitive return on their investment.
Your First Task: Understanding the Regulatory Framework In Which You’ll Operate
Crowdfunding is a regulated form of raising capital. Your first and most important step is to research and understand the regulatory framework in which your platform and the businesses you represent will be operating.
For example, Reg CF (also known as Title III) Crowdfunding requires firms to submit a New Membership Application (NMA) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This application will trigger various checks & interviews that will assess the firm's’ policies and procedures for regulatory compliance. You can find crucial tips for FINRA Title III application here.
These regulations also affect the businesses on your platform – including what money can be raised and how it can be advertised – and has ramifications for the investors themselves.
Key Takeaway: Understanding your regulatory obligations is paramount. Your first priority is to find or build a platform that will support you in proving your compliance with all relevant regulations.
10 Essential Platform Features For Debt Crowdfunding
Regulatory compliance is crucial, but it’s far from being the only thing you need from your crowdfunding software. For this reason, most businesses creating a crowdfunding platform opt for white-label crowdfunding software, like Katipult, to provide them with the features they need. It is far quicker and cheaper to partner with an expert than it is to code a new solution from scratch.
However, not all crowdfunding platforms are created equal. You should look for software with the following features:
Underwriting services analyze the businesses applying for debt crowdfunding (and their credit file) to assess whether they meet certain minimum standards. This is an essential service that helps protect the reputation of your platform; if too many businesses default on their repayments, investors will lose trust in the opportunities you provide for them. Some platforms offer underwriting as a service, which reduces your need to outsource this elsewhere (or do it internally).
Underwriting should form just one part of a wider review process for every application. You may want to review the business, their business plan, their industry, and the text of their offering itself for both discrepancies and suitability for publishing on your platform. With the right software, this entire process can be managed using the platform itself.
Stringent KYC/AML requirements require you to run suitability and verification checks on all your potential investors; this is a necessary step for compliance and cannot be skipped. Automating these processes saves your business time and money, and by speeding up the process, you provide the end-user with a better experience.
Advanced Search Features
The search features of your platform enable investors to narrow-down your opportunities by risk profile, time horizon, size, country, industry, or other criteria. This is an essential feature that makes it quicker and easier for your investors to find investments that are relevant and interesting to them. Without these features, investors are forced to trawl through tens or even hundreds of irrelevant opportunities before they find what they’re looking for – that’s if they don’t give up first.
Multiple Loan Types
Platforms which support multiple loan types, including monthly payment (amortized), interest-only, balloon, and single payment will be able to attract a wider variety of businesses and investors.
Many investors will prefer to re-invest their crowdfunding returns but don’t want to manage the process themselves. Instead, auto-invest features allow these investors to set up rules governing how they want their returns reinvested. Providing investors with the ability to ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ is a valuable feature that makes the process far easier and more efficient for investors.
Platforms can report investment income to the appropriate tax authorities, helping investors both save time and ensure they are correctly reporting their income.
Investors want at-a-glance information about their potential loans. Built-in calculators save them time and make it easier for them to assess a potential opportunity.
Great UX Design
UX, or user experience, is extremely important. The businesses and investors your platform serves want something that is intuitive, easy to use, and features great navigation. Most individuals take UX design for granted: if your platform is poorly designed both your customer acquisition and retention will suffer; they’ll simply take their business elsewhere.
Managing hundreds or thousands of investors manually is a huge drain on your resources. Your platform should take the administrative strain here, enabling you to quickly and easily distribute information, announcements, and reports to the relevant investors. It’s also important that your platform provides investors with the information they need – e.g., tax statements, quarterly performance reports – so that they can access these instantly without having to contact your team.
Best Practice Building Your Own Debt Crowdfunding Platform
- Implementation & Project Management – Set goals and deadlines in a structured plan that lays out your entire journey from conception to launch. Then stick to it.
- Vendor Due Diligence – Regardless of whether you’re hiring developers to create your own platform from scratch or working with a white label crowdfunding platform you must ensure your partners are not only qualified, but also trustworthy.
- Build a Great Team – You need more than just technical skills to launch your crowdfunding platform; you’ll also need marketing skills, networking skills and a hefty amount of grit.
Are you ready to get your debt crowdfunding platform started? Contact a Katipult expert today.