最有看点的互联网金融门户

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我们该为众筹和P2P的“机构化”担忧吗?

众筹和P2P正在逐渐成为每个人日常金融生活的一部分。个人和小企业都蜂拥向大众,以期获得项目和投资。

但是,大公司、风投基金和养老基金也正试图让这个部门“机构化”,难道这个领域也要进入“大公司时代”了吗?

剑桥大学替代金融研究中心和创新慈善机构Nesta的一份报告显示,英国在线替代金融部门2015年增长了84%,投资、贷款和众筹捐赠总额高达32亿英镑。不过相比于2014年161%的增长幅度,增速明显放缓。

随着众筹和P2P产业的日益成熟,更多主流金融投资者将参与其中。剑桥中心用“机构化”来形容这一领域。

P2P投资信托已经开始出现,银行和养老基金也成为平台的主要投资人。最近在伦敦举办的金融创新会议上,大多数金融科技公司都将目光瞄准银行,而不是消费者。不过随着该部门越来越主流,它的吸引力恐会下降。

这如同父母加入了Facebook。当你的妈妈开始赞你发的状态或者分享你小时候的照片时,这个社交网站似乎就不那么受年轻人喜爱了。Facebook上16至24岁的用户群正不断流失,最近的年度报道指出,Facebook最大的风险就是失去对年轻人群的吸引力。

相似的事情似乎也在众筹和P2P部门上演。

这不是说老年人不收欢迎,事实上,众筹的魅力就是各个年龄段的不同人群均可参与其中。但是一旦大型机构参与,它将失去耀眼的“另类”标签,而这正是众筹得以长期受欢迎的关键。

金融科技会议往往是电脑天才将他们的绝妙APP和软件推销给消费者的时机。但是现在,他们直接推销给银行。

P2P部门已经出台了一系列针对贷款人和借款人的更严格监管条例,这当然是好事。但是,现在越来越多私募基金式的众筹的门槛不断提高,针对的往往是投资额较大的高净值人群,而拒绝小投资者的加入。这个故事似乎并不陌生。

如果产业朝着私募方向发展,像easyProperty、JustPark 和BrewDog等针对小投资人的成功公司是否还会存在?

众筹之所以出现,不正是银行对小投资者关上了大门吗?但是现在,许多众筹平台也对他们关上了大门。

前金融服务管理局主席Lord Adair Tuner最近加入了关于众筹行业未来前景的辩论,并解释了为什么“老一套”应该远离这个部门。

他对BBC记者表示:“5到10年后,P2P行业带来的损失会让银行家看起来像是借款天才。”

公平的说,P2P和众筹最近也有许多失败案例。索赔管理公司Rebus去年在众筹平台Crowdcube众筹81.6万英镑后,本月宣布倒闭。不过和银行的紧急救助金相比,这点金额显得微不足道。

P2P金融协会相关人士表示,他的观点需要证据、监管和针对公司的尽职调查的支持。

在缺乏金融服务补偿计划的保护之下,确实存在着额外的风险。但是总体来说坏账率并不高。作为投资者,你承担的风险越高,回报也就越多。

随着银行的进入,股权众筹的成本将不断提高,回报众筹和捐赠众筹将与其分道扬镳。

捐赠众筹是一种没有回报的众筹,但事实上它却是2015年替代金融领域增长最快的。虽然只有1200万英镑占比,但是增长率达到507%。

回报众筹的回报形式不一定是金钱,这种类型众筹去年的年增长率为62%,总额高达4200万英镑。回报平台现在大受欢迎。例如,四月新成立一个叫做Gifted Deposit的平台,它首次允许用户免费帮助他人偿还抵押贷款,且这个帮助是没有任何资金回报的。

另一个平台Crowdfunder则看好回报众筹和捐赠众筹的快速增长。该平台20%的项目都是由社会组织发起且没有经济回报的。但是其每年为英国的公益组织募集100万英镑。最近,我在Crowdfunder发起了自己的回报众筹项目——为我的爸爸募集资金开设语言治疗课程。他患有帕金森多年,我们希望用公益宣传片记录他的进步,让他战胜自己的语言障碍从而在8月份我姐姐的婚礼上讲话。

我一直借助于朋友、家庭和社会媒体的帮助,现在,我们距离我们的目标只有一半距离了。

我不需要大银行、投资经理和任何商务人士的帮助。帮助我的人没有想过金钱回报,他们只是想帮忙。

 

Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer are slowly becoming part of everyday personal finance parlance.

Small businesses and individuals are flocking to the crowd to get projects or enterprises funded.

But now big banks, investment funds and pension companies are trying to get involved in what is being called the 'institutionalisation' of the sector, so it all about to get too corporate?

The UK online alternative finance sector grew by 84 per cent in 2015, facilitating £3.2 billion in investments, loans and donations, according to a report from the the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge and innovation charity Nesta.

However, this is actually a slower growth rate than in 2014, when lending grew by 161 per cent.

As crowdfunding and peer-to-peer become more established, it is likely to attract attention from mainstream financial providers.

The Cambridge report identifies the ‘institutionalisation’ of the sector.

There are now peer-to-peer investment trusts, as well as banks and pension funds with money invested in the platforms. And the recent Finovate conference in London consisted mainly of 'alt fi' companies pitching their services at banks rather than consumers.

But the risk is that as the sector becomes more mainstream, it may also become less attractive.

It’s like when your parents joined Facebook. The social media platform suddenly became less cool when your mum started liking your posts and sharing your baby pictures.

Facebook has seen a drop off in users in the 16 to 24 age group and has previously warned in a recent annual report that a lack of appeal to the younger generation was a key risk.

The same seems to be happening in crowdfunding and peer-to-peer.

But this isn’t an argument that old people will spoil the broth. Crowdfunding is for all ages and all types of people, that’s the beauty of it.

But with institutions getting involved it no longer has that jazzy alternative tag which in the long run could hit its popularity.

Financial technology conferences used to be full of computer nerds pushing their apps or groundbreaking software to consumers. Now they are pushing it straight to the banks.

The sector has already been placed under stricter regulation for borrowers and investors, which is a good thing, but now we are seeing more premium types of private-equity style crowdfunding aimed at higher net worth individuals with high minimum investments, essentially shutting out the little guy who wants to invest. That all sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it?

If the industry was more weighted towards private equity, would we have seen such successful campaigns for easyProperty, JustPark or BrewDog, all of which value being able to let smaller investors get involved?

Wasn’t that the whole reason crowdfunding emerged, because banks where shutting out the smaller businesses and those with less to invest? But now some of the crowdfunding platforms are effectively shutting out the crowd.

Former Financial Services Authority chairman Lord Adair Turner recently joined the debate about the future of the sector and explained why the ‘old school’ should be staying away.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: ‘The losses which will emerge from peer-to-peer lending over the next five to 10 years will make the bankers look like lending geniuses.’

To be fair to him, there have been a number of peer-to-peer and crowdfunding failures recently. Claims management company Rebus, which raised £816,000 on Crowdcube last year, collapsed earlier this month. But the amounts pale into insignificance against bank bailouts.

The Peer2Peer Finance Association says his views fly in the face of evidence and overlook regulation of the sector and the due diligence done on firms.

There are of course extra risks in this sector due to a lack of Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection, but default rates tend to be low and you get better rates for taking more risk.

While the big boys from the banking world may be coming in and pushing up the cost of equity-based crowdfunding, reward and donation-based schemes are actually thriving on their own.

Donation-based crowdfunding – where no return is expected – grew the fastest among all alternative finance models in 2015, with a 507 per cent year-on-year growth rate, albeit with just £12 million distributed.

Reward-based crowdfunding – where returns don’t have to be financial – increased 62 per cent year-on-year to £42million.

This type of platform is becoming this popular, for example, there is one launching in April called Gifted Deposit where would-be first-time buyers can pitch for help to fund a mortgage deposit, without expecting anything financial in return.

One platform, Crowdfunder, has seen an increase in reward and donation-based projects.

Around 20 per cent of its projects have a social enterprise slant and there is no financial reward. It has raised almost £1million for social enterprises across the UK.

I have recently joined in and launched my own social enterprise reward-based crowdfunding campaign on Crowdfunder to fund speech therapy lessons for my dad that are no longer available on the NHS.

He suffers from Parkinson’s and we want to make an awareness-raising documentary charting his progress in the hope that he can overcome a speech impediment to speak at our sister’s wedding in August.

I have been relying on the support of friends and family and social media, and so far we are halfway towards our target.

I haven’t needed any big banks, fund managers, or men in suits. No-one wants a financial return. They just want to help.

That is why I think we should be wary of the big institutions coming in and trying to monetise something that is essentially meant to be about people, not profits.


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