Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly important form of financing for start-ups as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). It offers significant chances for businesses regarding their funding – especially in the early stages – and hereby contributes to economic growth and welfare. Even though SMEs are a driving engine of the European economy, they often lack access to finance and are consequently unable to unleash their full potential. Crowdfunding platforms, as intermediaries between investors and businesses seeking capital, provide a solution for the issue mentioned above and should consequently be supported by a proper EU broad regulatory framework.
Regulatory sandboxes are controlled ‘safe spaces’ set up by regulators, which allow Fintechs to test innovative products, services or business models without immediately being subject to all regulatory requirements. As of today, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Denmark are the only European countries who have established a testing environment for Fintechs. However, with Austria being the next EU Member State to set up a regulatory sandbox in 2019 and the expectation that more countries are to follow in the near future, the risk arises that a fragmented ecosystem of differing national sandboxes will be created. This could not only mean regulatory arbitrage within the EU, but also lead to fairness issues as well.