at UK Crowdfunding Day

Chris Ford with Nick Moules at UK Crowdfunding Day

Last Friday saw Dan and Nick attend UK Crowdfunding Day for a packed day of presentations covering all angles of the market, including peer-to-business lending.

While it has become clear that a split is forming in the market between the debt platforms and the rest, driven primarily by the early exchanges on the sector’s regulation, there is a lot to be said for improving awareness of raising cash for businesses or individuals over the internet, whatever the method. This conference certainly did that.

There was a strong academic slant to the day, with the first keynote speech delivered by Richard Swart of UC Berkeley. Richard is a world-leading research director who has been quantifying the potential global scale of crowdfunding. He admitted his findings were conservative estimates, but it’s into the $100bn+ bracket, particularly in Asia.

Unusually, he cited Africa as a source of inspiration for the rest of the world. Because it largely lacks infrastructure and established banking systems, mobile banking is moving at a faster pace there than anywhere else in the world. The majority of the population has access to a mobile phone and is used to making payments from it. It seems ideally suited to crowdfunding, although the potential for fraud is much higher.

The morning also featured David Attenborough’s appeal to save the mountain gorilla. Launched the previous day with a flurry of press coverage, it brought into focus the fine line between survival and extinction facing the species. Anyone interested in donating to this cause can find out more on its Indiegogo page.

Reflecting the increasingly political interest in the sector, Barry Sheerman MP, chair of the newly formed APPG for crowdfunding, delivered the afternoon keynote. Barry also spoke at the inaugural event earlier this year and looked back on the progress made. He also pointed out that although technology has played a pivotal role in the industry to date, it has the potential to skyrocket, particularly through the mobile technology opportunity referenced by Richard Swart.

He reiterated the enormous potential for good in the industry and vowed to work closely with the market and the regulator to make sure a fair balance is struck between protection and opportunity.

Dan (far left) on the Towns and Cities panel

Following this speech, Dan joined a panel to talk about the potential of crowdfunding, peer-to-business lending and niche markets like university alumni funding to transform towns and cities.

We’ve been offering the opportunity for people to start their own crowdfunding company for a while now, leveraging our technology to help them get going, but this was also an opportunity to talk about the closer ties to local businesses being established by the movement. Dan is very passionate about the wider benefits of lending to businesses and the value that can be created outside the loan transaction, so this was an ideal platform.

We also met one of our lenders, Chris Ford, who took advantage of the reduced ticket option available through our site beforehand. As a business owner and someone relatively new to the rest of the crowdfunding market, there was a lot for Chris to take in, but he was impressed with the innovation, confidence and optimism in the room.

We’re planning to step up our presence in the field and will let all our members know where we’re going to be through our Facebook events page. We’re always happy to meet face to face, run a short workshop at your workplace to explain the benefits of peer-to-business lending or talk at events.

Awareness is the biggest barrier to success for this new industry, but days like UK Crowdfunding Day and the work of its contributors will do much to address it.

Who knows what the environment will be like at the next one?

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