FundedHere is first equity-based crowdfunding platform to get full nod from MAS

FundedHere is first equity-based crowdfunding platform to get full nod from MAS

SINGAPORE - The dawn of securities-based crowdfunding has finally come to Singapore - after FundedHere on Monday said that it has been given the green light by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to run the first equity and debt crowdfunding platform here.

FundedHere chief Michael Tee told The Business Times: "The licence we have now is a fully operational licence, and not a provisional licence. We are the first in Singapore to receive this Capital Market Services (CMS) licence and (go live)."

Singapore's two other equity crowdfunding players - Capbridge (a platform set up by Clearbridge Accelerator and Singapore Exchange in January 2015) and Crowdo (founded in early 2013) - both said they have won "in-principle approval" of a CMS licence (ie, provisional licence) and will soon receive full licences from MAS to roll out their platforms.

FundedHere got its in-principle approval a few weeks ago, BT has learnt.

FundedHere's Mr Tee said: "We are leveraging this first-mover advantage to reach out to as many startups and accredited investors (AIs) as we can."

Startups from South-east Asia and China can raise angel or seed funding from as low as S$5,000 - through equity issue or debt - by registering their business ideas on the platform.

FundedHere said that it has reviewed over 100 startups - mostly from Singapore - and short-listed about 10 with the potential to be crowdfunded.

For now, only AIs - with at least S$2 million in net personal assets excluding the primary residence, or who earn at least S$300,000 annually - can invest via the platform, according to a proposed framework by MAS.

The government agency, which a year ago issued a consultation paper on a proposed framework for securities-based crowdfunding, is still reviewing the feedback received and has yet to publish a response paper.

Meanwhile, Malaysia in February 2015 became the first South-east Asia country to publish an equity crowdfunding framework. In June 2015, it authorised six equity crowdfunding operators, one of which was Crowdo.

Nonetheless, industry players on Monday applauded FundedHere's news. Lawrence Yong, founder of debt crowdfunding site MoolahSense, said: "It signifies the first step towards formal recognition of the viability of securities-based crowdfunding to support the startup community."

Mr Yong, however, added that he looks forward to the day retail investors, in addition to AIs, can access "such interesting investment opportunities".

In the equity crowdfunding space, Capbridge said that while it is happy to see "further validation of the space", its platform is potentially different from the competition as it targets global tech-focused companies that are invested by top-tier venture funds and institutional funds, where it offers capital syndication.

Crowdo believes that there is "some room" for collaboration between the three equity crowdfunding players - given the nascency of the industry and the mixed track record of the first-time operators. Said co-founder Leo Shimada: "As we position Crowdo to serve growth companies, we are a step-up from platforms focusing more on idea-stage businesses. At the same time, we can serve as a springboard for pre-IPO (initial public offering) companies."

Crowdo, which currently runs equity crowdfunding in Malaysia and debt crowdfunding in Indonesia, intends to launch both equity and debt products in Singapore.

FundedHere, founded in March 2015, was initially sponsored by Andy Lim, co-founder of private equity firm Tembusu Partners. Mr Lim is now an advocate and adviser of the platform.

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