In an effort to stimulate startup financings, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) are proposing to adopt uniform rules for crowdfunding.
The CSA first adopted a variety of crowdfunding exemptions and orders back in 2015, but they’ve hardly been used since then.
The regulators reported that $3.5 million in total has been raised in 70 distributions by 62 different issuers under the existing regime. Another $130,650 has been raised under Alberta’s rules. There has been no use at all of a separate regime that was introduced in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 2016.
In an effort to make securities crowdfunding a more viable option for startups, the CSA is proposing to introduce new harmonized rules.
“We have heard from market participants that a harmonized regulatory framework tailored for securities crowdfunding available across Canada would foster the use of [crowdfunding] as an alternative for startups and early stage issuers to raise capital,” the CSA said in its notice.
The proposed new rule keeps certain features of the existing crowdfunding regime, but incorporates changes designed to improve its effectiveness as a capital-raising tool for startups.
Among other things, the CSA is proposing to increase the maximum amount an issuer can raise from crowdfunding each year to $1 million from $500,000, and to raise the limit on investors from $1,500 to $2,500 (the limit is $5,000 for investments that receive suitability assessments).
“Small businesses and startups need unified regulatory requirements for securities crowdfunding to expand their access to capital,” said Louis Morisset, chair of the CSA and president and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), in a statement.
“This proposed national instrument would introduce a single, harmonized set of rules, and increase the thresholds for capital-raising and investing, while still providing appropriate investor protection,” Morisset added.
The proposals are out for comment until May 27.