The Debate: Crowdfunding Investor Protection

Although a deadline has been set — as we discussed in an article published earlier this week — SEC officials have a few more hurdles to jump over before reaching a confident decision; one of the unresolved issues at hand is the notion of crowdfunding investor protection — how to avoid fraudulent claims and over-valued investments. One of the JOBS Act’s most popular stipulations grants small-time investors (many first-time) the right to purchase equity from campaigning businesses. Since these are not accredited investors, myriad concerns fall on the table. Currently, there are two popular solutions for the SEC to maul over: “self-attestation” or an ubiquitous crowdfunding database.

Crowdfunding Investor Protection

Self-attestation relies on the honest word of the investor; he/she reports their own net-worth, thus setting their own limitations. By not requiring documentation from the investor, the SEC would have to waive all of their responsibilities since investors would have a way to lift the limitations of the JOBS Act without legal repercussion. Of course, the largest concern would be that without crowdfunding investor protection overhead, many amateurs would gamble their savings. The safer option — one that requires vast resources, time, and supervision — would be to implement a third-party database to track investor activity, verify the accuracy of an investor’s net-worth, and regulate all U.S. based crowdfunding portals. Sadly, this has the potential to stall equity-based crowdfunding, and many investors are growing impatient.

In Canada, the OSC just wrapped up a similar round of crowdfunding investor protection planning. The proposed (not yet instated) solutions include:

  • An universal investment cap of $2,500 per instalment or $10,000 annually
  • Issuer must provide investor with all financial documentation, including a risk projection outline
  • Investor has the statutory right to sue the issuer for misrepresentation
  • Both parties are to sign a full disclosure encompassing all investment variables
  • 48-hour “cool-off” period in which the investment may be forfeited without conflict
  • Investor is to receive on-going financial updates concerning the use of their money, among many other things

While many of the proposed ideas in Canada could not function as part of the JOBS Act, there must surely be potential for a hybrid regulation. If the decision comes down between a database or “self-attestation”, which would you prefer and why?

Crowdfunding Investor Protection


  • Ken Baer

    I choose self-attestation for the following reasons. 1) People are generally not stupid. Even when they are ignorant, they will learn very quickly from mistakes. 2) Unlike 80 years ago (when the SEC was founded to protect investors and regulate issuers) Investors today have the internet with which to educate themselves. It is far easier to assess an investment and gauge the veracity of the issuer. 3) The central tenet of the U.S. system is freedom of the individual. Regulate the issuers? Fine. But leave the individual alone to pursue their happiness.

  • Pingback: Clever Crowdfunding: Risk, Regulation, and Social Capital | The Handbuilt City

  • http://www.defynedesign.com/ Adam

    Our government is comical. What are the limitations when you go into a casino? Only lose what you bring or limits on the ATM? Tell people the risks involved and prosecute fully anyone who tries to create fake businesses to exploit these investors. We need to allow the other 99% to be able to take a chance on someone or some business. I would rather lose money on a business I believe in and get to be apart of, than on the roulette wheel at a casino.

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