Crowdfunding, or collaborative financing, began to sound in Spain just over six years ago and is usually linked to promoting cultural projects. At the beginning of 2014, the Government considered how to regulate the then incipient online technology platforms that acted as an alternative financing model for companies and as an investment product. And already in 2017, the sector is beginning to take shape: Catalan companies captured 54 million euros last year through the eight alternative financing platforms accredited by the Government through Acció.
In total, 1,700 operations were carried out on these fintech platforms in 2017, practically the same as the previous year, when 37.3 million euros were captured. In volume, the increase in the year was 45%.
SMEs and start-ups are the main users of the new collaborative financing tools
Acció has accredited alternative financing platforms of three types: the so-called crowd equity (the funds raised are in exchange for participating in the capital of the company) offered by Capital Cell, Crowdcube Spain and The Crowd Angel; is a formula used by start-ups and start-ups to involve family members, clients, friends and micro investors as partners. The crowdlending (collective financing in the form of loans) of Arboribus, Loanbook, Ecrowd; and invoice discounting (invoice trading), a form of short-term financing offered by Finanzarel and Novicap. In all cases, explains Oriol Sans, finance director at Acció, these are companies authorized by the CNMV and the Bank of Spain, according to current regulations; “From Acció we spread the new tools to give confidence to companies to diversify their sources of funding to grow,” says Sans.
The main users of these alternative financing channels to the traditional banking system are SMEs, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. Of the total of 54 million received, 22.1 million (42% more than the previous year) were in the form of loans, in 335 operations (an average of 66,000 euros per loan). The discount of invoices through these online platforms grew by 32%, to 21.9 million, with 1,337 operations. And the share of raising funds in exchange for capital practically doubled, with 9.9 million euros in 28 operations (with an average of 350,000 euros collected per operation).
In the last year, examples of companies that have raised funds to raise capital through these alternative platforms are Vytrus Biotech, MJN Neuroserveis, Farmaconfianza, Clintu, Boxmotions or Umaicha.
In any case, it seems clear that alternative financing is still very minor compared to traditional bank financing, and at least for the time being, it will not replace it. “What we like is that they complement each other, that there are more financing opportunities for companies, with more varied actors and tools,” says Sans.