EUROCROWD’s Italian Strategic Group: Activities Report 2020-2021

EUROCROWD together with members of its Italian Strategic Group (ISG) is delighted to present its second activity report: the ISG – Activities Report 2020-2021. In the operational context of EUROCROWD’s Strategic Groups, this document aims to summarise the main activities, carried out in the reference period from July 2020 to December 2021, of the Italian Strategic Group.

It is important to underline the inauguration of the first EUROCROWD-ISG course at the Cottino Social Impact Campus, thanks to the activation of an agreement scheme with the Consortium of companies The W Place. 166 people were trained, for a total of 63 certified professional figures and placed in the world of crowdfunding. The results emerged from the evaluation questionnaires issued at the end of the course are absolutely positive and encouraging: 97% of participants would recommend a friend or acquaintance to attend the EUROCROWD certification course for professional campaigns and platform managers.

In line with the expectations of the members and with the multi-year work program drawn up in 2018, the Italian Strategic Group continues to return promising results and a lively cross-section of the national market, both in terms of active operators and other actors (public and private bodies, press agencies, research centers) interested. The challenges launched by the pandemic have been many and have developed in various forms, placing significant obstacles to face-to-face interactions and the provision of training courses and support activities to institutions and companies.

Despite everything, the 2021 results and the 2022 outlook confirm the positive trend of the working group, which has renewed its commitment to operate in the national context through the election of the new Board of Directors and has set itself new and more ambitious goals for the years to come. The Italian Strategic Group has established itself as a good practice at European level, and expressing a clear desire for expansion. The Group has also confirmed its willingness to share experiences and collaborate on new projects, in the spirit of openness and transparency that distinguishes all EUROCROWD training and activities from the very first days of activity.

Download the ISG – Activities Report 2020-2021

Toolkit on Citizen Financing Schemes for Energy Efficiency

On 30 of April CitizEE, managed by a consortium of European organisations including EUROCROWD and co-financed by the European Commission, has closed with a final toolkit including the main outtakes. The main aim of this joint venture was to create an overview of how to implement Citizen Financing Schemes for energy efficiency and how public authorities can support them. 

Energy efficiency is gaining importance in combating climate change, as one third of the EU’s CO2 emissions are caused by inefficiency in the building sector. The challenge ahead needs new innovative funding schemes to bring more private investment on-board. 

The work delivered by CitizEE showcases that a citizen financing market, involving cooperatives, and crowdfunding platforms, presents an opportunity for interested parties in adding value to the energy transition. In addition, combining cooperative funding or crowdfunding model with public financing instruments can have relevant impact. Integrating citizen financing with public funds can be used as an incentive for private investment, risk diversification and increased reach of public measures.  

As a result, public funds can be leveraged not only financially through private funds, but also on a political level through the involvement and support of citizens. This alignment of public and private, both on institutional and citizen levels can generate attractive investment opportunities for all involved parties for energy efficiency projects. Creating citizen financing schemes is therefore a relevant objective for public authorities interested in maximising the impact of public funds and citizen engagement. 

However, legal and operational issues at the level of EU support and local authorities continue to hinder the effective roll out of scalable Citizen Finance Schemes, such as for example EIB backed Investment Platforms. A final overview of lessons learned in creating co-financing with European Fund for Strategic Investments by pilot projects and an overview of how to approach can be found in a Toolkit. 

Read the CitizEE Toolkit 2022

Crowdfunding For Sustainable Energy Transition of Football Stadiums and Sports Buildings In Europe

As part of our work on the energy transition and sustainable finance, EUROCROWD is proud to present its new publication showcasing a collection of significant case studies that offer a first look at how crowdfunding can be used to support the sustainable transition towards carbon neutrality of a particular segment of Europe’s building stock: football stadiums and sports buildings.

Sports buildings are among the main consumers of energy in Europe, with an estimated 229-448 kWh of energy used annually per square meter of space. In order to significantly reduce the CO2 produced by this intensive use and unlock sports building energy efficiency savings, crowdfunding can, and does, represent an innovative engagement and financing tool to support football fans and clubs alike to get involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and take an active part in the energy transition through the demonstration of energy efficiency projects in the context of football buildings and stadiums.

The report builds on data previously gathered by the GREENFOOT project to identify major trends and assesses potential criteria for success or failure, highlighting the wide array of practical implementation options offered by the different crowdfunding models in combination with the unique emotional leverage traditionally associated with sports fandom.

The examples presented clearly show that more and more sports clubs are indeed interested in reaching out to the crowd to co-finance infrastructure projects for their sports facilities, and provide an in-depth insight into the potential of mixing sports fandom with energy crowdfunding initiatives. The report also includes specific recommendations for further exploiting the potential of crowdfunding solutions for community-based investments for energy efficiency measures in sport-related projects.

Read the publication Crowdfunding For Sustainable Energy Transition of Football Stadiums and Sport Buildings In Europe: A Collection of Case Studies.

AFME publishes its 4th European Capital Markets Union Key Performance Indicators

Brussels, 21 October 2021. EUROCROWD is happy to again have been supporting AFME in Capital Market Union Key Performance Indicator report, alongside the Climate Bond Initiative (CBI), and nine European trade associations representing stock exchanges (FESE), fund and asset management (EFAMA), retail and institutional investors (European Investors), pension funds (PensionsEurope), venture capital and private equity (Invest Europe), private credit and direct lending (ACC), business angels (BAE, EBAN).

We believe that greater transparency and collaboration between market actors is key to a Capital Markets Union. With the new regulatory framework under ECSP coming into effect in November 2021, we foresee a greater role and better data availability for crowdfunding in the coming years. The Key Performance Indicators published by AFME have been a valuable tool in understanding the development of the European Commissions drive to harmonise financial service in Europe.

Download the report here

The report outlines how European capital markets have experienced another eventful year marked by the recovery from the economic stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the end of the Brexit transition period, among other developments. While last year’s edition of the industry’s Capital Markets Union (CMU) KPIs report showed there has been significant progress on the development of the CMU since the launch of the project in 2015, I am pleased to observe that the positive trajectory has continued this year.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, there has been a greater need for corporates to raise funds through capital markets. On this front our latest report points to positive developments, as capital markets have further increased the provision of funding to corporates. However, there is no room for complacency: a structural and pandemic-induced “equity gap” remains and equity-type finance still needs to be expanded in Europe. It also remains to be seen to what extent these record market-based financing levels can be sustained in more normal economic and market conditions, or whether they are a temporary result of the extraordinary support measures of the past year.

There is also significant progress concerning sustainability. EU ESG debt markets have shown rapid growth in the first half of 2021, with ESG issuance and investment no longer representing a niche sector but constituting a sizeable segment of overall debt markets. Similarly, Fintech companies have seen a substantial surge in investment in the first half of 2021. Most European countries have improved their local FinTech ecosystems over the last two years, which could prove instrumental in European job creation and growth.

While the overall results are positive, there are still long-standing issues hindering the potential of Europe’s capital markets. For instance, securitisation markets have declined with issuance reaching lower volumes than the levels shown before the introduction of the Simple, Transparent, and Standardised (STS) regime in 2018. A well-functioning securitisation market is fundamental to the capacity of the European financial system to facilitate risk transfer and provide further funding options for financial institutions. Meanwhile, the varying approaches to withholding tax across the EU and the lack of a relief-at source mechanism in some Member States continues to have a significant negative impact on cross-border investment, cost of capital and GDP.

AFME will present the key findings of their ongoing Capital Market Union Key Performance indicators at the 10th Crowdfunding Convention on the 18 November 2021.

EUROCROWD’s Position on MiCA Regulation: Are Token Offerings A New Business Opportunity For Crowdfunding Platforms?

The European Crowdfunding Network welcomes the initiative of the European Commission in facilitating with the proposal for Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation new frontiers in the financial system and beyond.

To shed light on some of these matters we prepared the EUROCROWD Position Paper on MICA Regulation, Reinforcing European Innovation in Crypto-Assets, where we (i) assess the impact of this significant regulatory initiative, (ii) address several initial points of concern, (iii) explore the overlap between current forms of crowdfunding and blockchain-based fundraising methods, (iv) evaluate the possibility of their convergence in the future.

Background:

On 24th September 2020, the European Commission adopted and published the Digital Finance Package, including Digital Finance and Retail Payments Strategies, and legislative proposals on crypto-assets and digital resilience. The MiCA regulation proposal is, without a doubt, the centrepiece of this regulatory package that triggered interest, not only in the EU but also abroad.

While this substantial piece of legislation is already on the table and will very likely enter into force beginning 2024, the general public has still a rather narrow vision when it comes to the purpose and reputation of crypto-assets.

MiCA in itself is heavily inspired by the existing financial regulatory framework, particularly MIFID II, however, affords crypto-assets a lighter regulatory regime than in the case of financial instruments. One of the most innovative features of MiCA is the legal status of the crypto-assets. Equipped with a bespoke definition, the crypto-assets effectively form a new asset-class separated from the types of assets that the legal system knew before.

MiCA legitimizes the crypto-assets and introduces a rather comprehensive regulatory framework that tackles:

  • Categorization of crypto-assets that are not financial instruments or central bank digital currencies
  • Different legal requirements on issuance and ongoing regulatory compliance depending on the type of crypto-asset
  • Token Offerings e.g. process of issuance of crypto-assets, and legal requirements for crypto-asset issuers
  • Regulatory requirements for crypto-asset service providers such crypto-asset custodians, crypto-asset exchanges and crypto-asset advisers, including
  • market abuse practices that are defined and sanctioned.

Especially the part of the legislation addressing the issuance of tokens creates space for comparison between traditional forms of (financial) crowdfunding and so-called token offerings. In our position paper (see the link below) we document that the approach of the regulators is distinctly different as it was or still is in the context of financial forms of crowdfunding. Instead of regulating the platforms, MiCA regulates assets and crypto-asset services, none of which is directly comparable or equivalent to service providers regulated by ECSP.  The issuance of crypto-assets that do not qualify as asset-referenced-tokens or e-money tokens requires only a very simple procedure, a short disclosure document, and no ongoing compliance. Furthermore, MiCA directly facilitates the establishment of secondary markets for crypto-assets, which have to cope with significantly lighter regulatory requirements than stock exchanges or multilateral trading facilities governed by MIFID II.

We believe that there is room for greater convergence between the recently enacted ECSP regulation and the new proposed MiCA regulation.

For more details, please download the EUROCROWD MiCA Position Paper here.

How Do SMEs In Europe Deploy Blockchain And Distributed Ledger Technologies?

Early insight and assessment around this new technology to guide SMEs and investors.

Blockchain technology and other Distributed Ledger Technologies (BDLT) possess several unique attributes that have a potential to disrupt many industries and their respective markets. The innovative aspects of this new technology concern particularly the ability to record and share information between parties that do not necessarily trust each other, in a decentralised way. Due to the risk associated in general with innovations, start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) deploying BDLT solutions often struggle to obtain financing in the early stage and subsequently in the scale-up phase.

However, in contrast to other innovative SMEs, blockchain companies experience further obstacles that decrease their chances for successful commercialization of the product. The early insights and examples provided in this paper were collected within the Blockpool acceleration programme. Blockpool has selected out of 109 applications from all over Europe, 25 SMEs to enhance their innovation capacity.

The intention of this paper is to show that these (intermediary) insights of Blockpool demonstrate that the acceleration concept works effectively, and to raise awareness on promising BDLT use cases and SMEs, both to motivate private investors, and to encourage other start-ups, SMEs or corporates to follow and replicate.

Download the paper here.

Acknowledgements

The Blockpool project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement 828888.

New Report Guides Public Authorities On Implementing Match-funding with Crowdfunding

24 June 2021 – Brussels, Belgium – EUROCROWD publishes today the second report on how to manage the use of European Structural and Investment Funds in combination with crowdfunding: Scaling Up Partnerships: A Blueprint For the Implementation Of Match-Funding Schemes Between Public Authorities and Crowdfunding Platforms. The findings showcase that over the last three years, match-funding practices in Europe have increased significantly, proving that public authorities can create measurable impact when co-investing public resources alongside citizens.

It is these match-funding schemes that are at the forefront of the report, which presents specific and concrete examples from 8 European countries and 22 best practices. These examples provide an in-depth insight into how such partnerships can work, especially when including the use of public – such as European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) – resources. The report also provides a handy blueprint specifically developed for an easy adaptation and development of crowdfunding partnerships.

In 2018, EUROCROWD first analysed the use of European Structural and Investment Funds in combination with crowdfunding. While we then found six cases in which match-funding was used, proving that the combination of public funds and crowdfunding is possible and appreciated by public authorities, this new study demonstrates that such match-funding schemes can not only work, but can also be scaled up and used as a blueprint for replication by other public authorities.

Whether you are a public authority, crowdfunding platform or a policymaker, the report will give you insights into:

  • key mechanisms and reference frameworks for partnerships between crowdfunding platforms and public authorities,
  • diverse, detailed and easy to replicate best practices,
  • a Match-funding Blueprint, specifically developed for an easy adaptation and development of crowdfunding partnerships.

Download Scaling Up Partnerships: A Blueprint For the Implementation Of Match-Funding Schemes Between Public Authorities and Crowdfunding Platforms report. For further information on the report and technical assistance, please contact us.

EUROCROWD would like to thank its members of its multi-stakeholder working group “Crowdfunding for European Structural and Investment Funds” (CF4ESIF), which has the aim of exploring the potential of crowdfunding as a blending and match-funding mechanism within the context of the European Cohesion Policy.  

About the CF4ESIF

The CF4ESIF (Crowdfunding for European Structural and Investment Funds) is a multi-stakeholder working group established with the aim of exploring the potential of crowdfunding as a blending and match-funding mechanism within the context of the European Cohesion Policy. The working group facilitates the dialogue between crowdfunding platforms, regional authorities and European institutions, with the aim of encouraging a joint effort towards the design and implementation of innovative funding schemes. The outputs of the working group so far have been the collection of existing best practices of civic crowdfunding in Europe (2018), the publication of guidelines on how to implement similar mechanisms in other European regions through ESF resources (2020), and the publication of the current report on how to implement match-funding schemes with public funds (2021). Find our more here https://eurocrowd.org/network/working-groups/

About EUROCROWD

EUROCROWD, registered as the European Crowdfunding Network AISBL (ECN) in 2013 in Belgium, is an independent, professional business network promoting adequate transparency, regulation and governance in digital finance while offering a combined voice in policy discussion and public opinion building. We aim to increase the understanding of the key roles that digital finance can play in supporting entrepreneurship of all types and its role in funding the creation and protection of jobs, the enrichment of European society, culture and economy, and the protection of our environment. 

Challenges and progress in 2020, 3rd “Capital Markets Union Key Performance Indicators”

Brussels, 28 October 2020. The third edition of the “Capital Markets Union Key Performance Indicators” report has been published. It tracks how individual member states have progressed on key metrics such as access to finance, levels of bank lending, transition to sustainable finance and a supportive fintech environment.  As previous editions, the collaborative report was authored by AFME with the support of the European Crowdfunding Network (ECN) for crowdfunding, the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), as well as European trade associations representing: business angels (BAE, EBAN), fund and asset management (EFAMA), retail and institutional investors (European Investors), stock exchanges (FESE), venture capital and private equity (Invest Europe), private credit and direct lending (ACC) and pension funds (Pensions Europe).

  • Crowdfunding continues to play marginal role in capital market funding, but forthcoming harmonisation of EU regulation is expected to increase capital flows cross border
  • Unprecedented levels of capital markets funding supported businesses in the first semester of2020
  • Bond issuance has increased, with growth of social bonds consolidating Europe’s ESG leadership
  • However, an undersized equities market means SMEs continue to rely on bank loans, restricting their opportunities to grow
  • Securitisation volumes continued to fall, limiting bank’s capacity to expand their lending

European capital markets provided record amounts of funding to support businesses and economies in 2020,
but lack of progress on the Capital Markets Union could hold back Europe’s economic recovery, according to
a report published today (28th October) by the Association of Financial Markets in Europe in collaboration
with 10 other European and international organisations.

“Our report demonstrates that despite the economic shock from the Covid-19 pandemic, European capital markets were resilient in 2020 with unprecedented levels of bond market issuance including continuing leadership in sustainable bonds. However, a dramatic increase in bank loans means that Europe remains highly dependent on bank lending. Equally, while member states have taken steps to foster innovation in their economies, investment in fintech companies is still below that of other major regions such as the US and China.

Adam Farkas, Chief Executive of AFME

If Europe is to achieve a strong economic recovery and ensure that it is globally competitive, further progress needs to be made in this e and other areas to strengthen its capital markets. The findings highlight the necessity for urgent action to encourage deep and extensive European capital markets beyond incumbent sectors. If crowdfunding will be able to finally live up to its aspirations will not be known until the sector has had a chance to exploit the forthcoming European Crowdfunding Service Provider for Business regulation (ECSP), though experience in individual member states provides positive indicators.

Overall key findings show that in the past 12 months, including the six months since the start of the pandemic, the EU has seen:

  • SMEs continue to rely on bank loans: Bank lending to EU27 SMEs totalled EUR 573bn in H1 2020compared with only EUR14.1 bn in risk capital investment (venture capital, private equity, business angel and equity crowdfunding).
  • Unprecedented levels of capital markets funding: funding from capital markets instruments, predominantly fixed income securities, increased by 44% YoY. This has resulted in an increase in the proportion of market finance for EU businesses from 11% in 2019 to 14.5%.
  • Securitisation remains subdued: Covered bond issuance has increased 82% YoY (predominantly of retained covered bonds) driven by the large increase in new lending stemming from the COVID-19pandemic and the ongoing central bank support for this product. Securitisation volumes have fallen year-on-year since the onset of the STS regime. Loan Portfolio sales have fallen steadily since the peak volume of EUR 182.5bn was recorded in 2018 to EUR 28.7 bn during the first half of 2020 as banks continue to shed NPLs from their balance sheets.
  • Growth of social bonds consolidates Europe’s ESG leadership: Throughout H1 2020, nearly one third (27%) of sustainable bond issuance in Europe was categorised as social, the largest proportion of the sustainable market in any half year to date.
  • Record increase in personal savings: European households have increased their savings rate to record levels at 16% of their disposable income in 1Q 2020 (vs. 12% in 2019). However, most of those savings have been predominantly invested into low-yield bank deposits.
  • Progress on fintech, but EU still lagging behind: Seven European countries launched fintech innovation hubs over the last year. However, investment into EU27 fintech companies during the first half of 2020 (EUR 1.5bn) continues below that of other major regions like the US (EUR 7.4bn) and the UK (EUR 2.1bn)
  • European integration remains resilient: compared to the 2008 financial crisis, in 2020 there have been no signs of significant deterioration of European integration. The COVID-19 crisis has not significantly disrupted the intra-European cross-border funding flows, with companies seeking to raise finance within Europe to navigate the pandemic. Bond issuance marketed within Europe increased to 96% in 2020 vs. 93% in 2019 and 60% in 2007. Integration with the rest of the world slightly deteriorated in H1 2020.

We are grateful to AFME and its dedication to monitor the impact of the Capital Market Union and the collaborative relationship we are able to maintain with their team. Many relevant policy actions have been taken over the past years to improve capital markets across Europe and their impact can be measured. We are looking forward to help establish crowdfunding under its new regulation (ECSP) as growing factor in financing small- and medium-sized enterprises across Europe with investment from both, retail and institutional investors through an increasingly sophisticated crowdfunding sector.

Analysis of current European Blockchain regulation, October 2020

Brussels, 6 October 2020 – The European Crowdfunding Network is happy to publish the study ANALYSIS OF CURRENT EUROPEAN BLOCKCHAIN REGULATION – An analysis of EU Legal Framework, including standards, policies and directives, specifically governing or related to DLT / blockchain solutions and applications. Within the framework of Blockpool, the European Crowdfunding Network (ECN) engaged Dentons Europe to provide relevant legal insights. We are grateful to all contributors to this study and believe it will help significantly to better understand the current regulatory restrictions and opportunities for a more extensive use of Blockchain, especially also for small- and medium-sized enterprises throughout Europe.

The study provides an overview of the legal framework specifically governing or related to DLT / Blockchain solutions and applications regarding the following areas:

  • Interoperability
  • Intellectual property
  • Data protection
  • Algorithmic accountability and reliability of DLT / Blockchain systems as moving
    towards a European Data Economy

The study contains information about:

  • The status quo of the existing Legal Framework specifically governing or related to DLT / Blockchain solutions and applications.
  • Information about any planned Legal Framework specifically governing or related to DLT / Blockchain solutions and applications.
  • Identification of Legislative Gaps and Regulatory Needs as well as regulatory challenges, which SMEs and DLT / Blockchain adopters are currently facing.
  • Identification of national regulatory limitations regarding DLT / Blockchain solutions and applications

You can download the study here under observation of our Terms & Conditions

This publication has been developed within the framework of the EC funded Blockpool project (www.blockpool.eu) by the European Crowdfunding Network and Dentons.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 research and i novation programme under Grant Agreement no 828888