The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has licensed the first crowd-sourced funding (CSF) intermediaries under the new CSF regime.
Seven companies have been issued with Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence authorisations to act as intermediaries able to provide a crowd-sourced funding service. With the grant of these new authorisations eligible public companies will now be able to use the CSF regime to raise capital by making offers of ordinary shares to investors via the on-line platform of one of these intermediaries.
ASIC Commissioner John Price said that this marked a significant milestone for crowd-sourced funding in Australia.
‘ASIC has been assessing applications as a matter of priority, as suitable intermediaries needed to be licensed before fundraising under the new regime could commence. Intermediaries have an important gatekeeper role which will be key to building and maintaining investor trust in crowd-sourced fundraising, so we are pleased to have now issued the first tranche of authorisations,’ he said.
The CSF regime is designed to provide start-ups and small to medium sized companies with a new means to access capital to develop and grow. CSF offers are subject to fewer regulatory requirements than other forms of public fundraising.
The newly licensed intermediaries have now been added to ASIC’s register of AFS licensees. ASIC’s free online search can be used by investors, potential crowd-sourced funders and others to confirm the authorisations held by individual licensees. ASIC encourages both CSF investors and companies to check whether their intermediary holds an AFS licence with appropriate authorisation to provide CSF services.
ASIC has previously highlighted the importance of investors understanding both the benefits and risks of investing via crowd-sourced funding. Further information regarding crowd-funding can be found on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.
On 29 September 2017 the Corporations Amendment (Crowd-sourced Funding) Act 2017 and associated regulations came into effect - establishing a regulatory framework to facilitate crowd-sourced equity funding in Australia.
One of the key objectives of the regime is to reduce the regulatory burden on smaller companies associated with raising funds from the public via the issue of ordinary shares.
ASIC has issued guidance to assist companies seeking to raise funds through CSF (Regulatory Guide 261 Crowd-sourced funding: Guide for public companies (RG 261). ASIC has also published a template CSF offer document to help companies prepare their CSF offers.