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European Crowdfunding Regulation (ECSP): What's new?

By Rocio Triboli

I. Introduction

The landscape of crowdfunding has evolved significantly over the years, transforming from a niche funding method to a mainstream way for businesses, startups, and individuals to raise capital. This transformation has prompted efforts within the European Union (EU) to regulate and standardize the crowdfunding industry, aiming to protect both investors and campaign creators. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into European Crowdfunding Regulation (ECSP), exploring its implications and what it means for various stakeholders.

II. The evolution of crowdfunding

To understand the ECSP regulation, we must first look at how crowdfunding has evolved and diversified over time. Crowdfunding, as we know it today, has undergone a remarkable evolution, transitioning from a novel concept to a powerhouse of alternative financing, and it has taken on various forms and models, each catering to distinct needs and goals.

A. Crowdfunding models

Donation-Based Crowdfunding: The origins of crowdfunding can be traced back to this model, where individuals and organizations solicit funds from the crowd for charitable, artistic, or personal causes. These campaigns rely on the generosity of donors who contribute without expecting financial returns.


Reward-Based Crowdfunding: Reward-based crowdfunding introduced a new dynamic, where backers receive non-monetary rewards, such as early access to products, merchandise, or exclusive experiences, in exchange for their financial support. This model gained popularity in creative industries, including film, music, and technology.


Lending-Based Crowdfunding (Peer-to-Peer Lending): Often referred to as peer-to-peer lending, this type of crowdfunding disrupted traditional lending channels by allowing individuals and businesses to borrow money directly from investors or peers, avoiding traditional financial institutions. Investors earn interest on their loans, and borrowers access funding at competitive rates.


Equity-based Crowdfunding: Equity crowdfunding marked a pivotal shift in the crowdfunding sector by enabling individuals to invest in early-stage startups and small businesses in exchange for equity or shares. This model democratizes investment opportunities and has opened doors for entrepreneurial ventures seeking capital.

B. The emergence of crowdfunding platforms

Crowdfunding platforms played a pivotal role in this evolution. They became the online intermediaries that connect campaign creators/fundraisers with potential backers/investors. Furthermore, these platforms democratized access to funding, streamlined the process by providing campaign creators with essential tools, resources, and a platform to showcase their projects. Additionally, they introduced a global dimension to crowdfunding, thereby enabling campaigns to attract backers from all over the world.

European crowdfunding regulation

III. The need for a European Crowdfunding Regulation

Why did the EU see the need for crowdfunding regulation, and what were the key drivers behind these efforts? 

The rapid growth of crowdlending and equity-based crowdfunding within Europe brought both opportunities and challenges. Consequently, this prompted the EU to establish comprehensive regulation for these sectors. With investor protection and the promotion of the crowdfunding market’s growth as the main drivers, this section delves deeper into the motivations behind regulating these specific forms of crowdfunding in Europe.

A. Investor protection

Preventing fraudulent activities

Crowdfunding platforms, while serving as valuable tools for fundraising, can also attract unscrupulous actors seeking to exploit unsuspecting backers. The need to create a more secure environment that safeguard investors from fraudulent or malicious campaigns was one of the paramount objectives of the EU.

Ensuring transparency

Transparency is crucial in reliable financial markets. Within the crowdfunding context, this means providing investors with comprehensive and accurate information about crowdfunding campaigns and platforms. Fundraisers are expected to disclose relevant details about their projects to foster trust within the crowdfunding ecosystem. Similarly, platforms are required to provide comparable information to allow investors to easily determine which platforms to invest on.

Mitigating risks for investors

Investing inherently carries risks, and crowdfunding is no exception. By implementing regulatory safeguards, such as investment limits and disclosure requirements, the EU aims to mitigate risks for investors while still enabling them to participate in crowdfunding opportunities.

B. Promoting market growth

Attracting more investors

A well-regulated crowdfunding market can draw a wider range of investors, boosting confidence and participation. Furthermore, with the implementation of this regulation, the EU envisions an environment where not only experienced investors but also retail investors feel confident and safe participating in crowdfunding campaigns.

Fostering innovation

Crowdfunding is a vital source for funding innovative projects across different fields, including technology, arts, and culture. The EU’s regulatory framework recognizes this role and aims to provide a favorable environment where creators can turn their ideas into reality.

Encouraging cross-border crowdfunding

Harmonizing rules and removing barriers facilitates cross-border crowdfunding campaigns, broadening horizons for both platforms, fundraisers and investors.

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IV. European Crowdfunding Regulation: Key highlights and impact

We now know the motives behind the EU crowdfunding regulations, but how does this translate into more practical measures? This section provides an overview of the fundamental aspects of ECSP regulation, breaking down its main components.

A. Key highlights of the European crowdfunding regulation

Investor limits

The regulation makes a clear distinction between retail and professional investors. Retail investors, typically less experienced individuals investing their personal funds, receive specific rules and protections. On the other hand, professional investors, who possess extensive financial knowledge, benefit from greater flexibility under the regulation. This careful differentiation ensures that while retail investors are safeguarded, professional investors can enjoy more flexibility within the regulatory framework.

For example, to protect retail investors, the regulation introduces investment limits based on an individual’s financial situation. Retail investors investing more than their recommended investment amount are required to read and accept a risk warning prior to the investment being carried out, thus ensuring that the investors are aware of the risks associated with the investment. 

Crowdfunding campaign limits

To maintain a balanced and controlled crowdfunding environment, the regulation sets limits on how much money can be raised through crowdfunding campaigns to prevent excessive fundraising. Campaigns exceeding EUR 5 million are subject to other established financial regulations.

Disclosure requirements

As previously mentioned, transparency is key. Under the EU framework, project owners are obligated to provide details about their campaign, the risks involved, the expected returns, and their financial statements. Simultaneously, platform providers are responsible for facilitating the dissemination of this information to investors. This collective effort ensures that investors can comprehensively assess the financial viability of a project and make informed choices, fostering trust within the crowdfunding ecosystem

Risk warnings

Understanding the risks associated with investing is essential. The regulation requires clear and explicit risk warnings to be provided to investors. These warnings serve as cautionary flags, making sure that investors are aware of the potential pitfalls and uncertainties involved in crowdfunding.

Licensing and supervision

Crowdfunding platforms are now categorized as “crowdfunding service providers” (CSPs) and are required to register with the relevant national authority. This registration process includes due diligence checks to ensure the platform’s compliance with regulatory requirements.

In addition, a Crowdfunding Regulation Committee is established to assist in implementing and monitoring the regulation. It will consist of representatives from national authorities and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). They play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the crowdfunding sector. 

B. Impact of the European crowdfunding regulation


Enhanced investor protection

This is probably the biggest take away of the regulation. Investors now have access to more information regarding the campaign and the project owner, allowing them to make informed investment decisions. Moreover, retail investors are now guaranteed a consideration period when investing, thus allowing them to cancel an investment within four days.

Safer investment environment

The regulation, in turn, fosters a safer investment environment by encouraging transparent disclosures and risk warnings. Consequently, this reduces the likelihood of concealed risks.

Possibility to cancel investment

When it comes to withdrawal rights, each crowdfunding platform previously adhered to its distinct set of investment terms and conditions. Some platforms permitted investors to exercise this right within specific timeframes, whereas others did not offer this flexibility. However, with the introduction of the new EU regulation, things have changed. Now, investors across platforms are guaranteed a four-day window within which they can reconsider their investment decisions and opt to cancel their shares. 

Investment diversification

With a unified regulatory framework, cross-border crowdfunding is promoted, giving inventors a broader range of campaigns to diversify their portfolio. This empowers them to refine their strategies according to risk tolerance and financial goals.

CSPs that meet the regulatory requirements in one member state will be able to provide their services across the EU without the need for separate authorizations.

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Project owners and platform providers are the ones facing most of the challenges brought along by the EU crowdfunding regulation. These include:

Administrative burden

Campaign creators must navigate stringent disclosure requirements, thus ensuring the provision of accurate and comprehensive information.

Additionally, ensuring regulatory compliance may entail administrative tasks for both fundraisers and CSPs, which can potentially impact the efficiency of operations.

Campaign limits

Campaign limits imposed by the regulation may create obstacles in achieving fundraising goals, especially for larger projects. 

Compliance costs

Adhering to regulatory standards often involves significant costs. Consequently, CSPs need to invest in technology, legal expertise, and compliance measures to ensure they meet the regulatory requirements. As a result, these costs can strain the financial resources of smaller platforms.

Complex regulatory landscape

The European crowdfunding regulation introduces a complex and evolving regulatory landscape. Platform providers must stay updated with changing rules and adapt their operations accordingly. Navigating this regulatory complexity can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.


Acquiring the necessary licenses and meeting regulatory standards for operating a crowdfunding platform can be a complex process. Failure to meet these requirements within the specified timeframe may result in the temporary suspension of long-established platforms that couldn’t meet the deadline.

Risk management

With increased investor protections and disclosure requirements, platform providers must implement more robust risk management practices. They need to assess and mitigate risks associated with crowdfunding campaigns to maintain investor trust and minimize potential liabilities.

Cross-border operations

While the regulation promotes cross-border crowdfunding and growth opportunities, it also adds complexity. Platform providers must navigate multiple regulatory frameworks from EU member states. Having the license in one EU member state means that the CSP doesn’t need to reapply when moving across borders; however, other regulations regarding payment services, investment products, or money laundering may require additional resources.

Technology upgrades

Meeting regulatory requirements often involves implementing technology upgrades to enhance security, transparency, and reporting capabilities. 

V. Conclusion

The EU crowdfunding regulation represents a significant milestone in the crowdfunding industry’s journey. It aims to strike a balance between investor protection and market growth, ultimately benefiting both platforms, campaign creators and investors. Understanding the key aspects of this regulation is crucial for anyone involved in crowdfunding in the EU. Moreover, as the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, staying informed and adapting to these changes will be essential for navigating the world of crowdfunding successfully in the European Union.

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