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London emerging as world leader in crowdfunding

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Barry James, the centre’s founder and chief executive, said he was “stunned” when he first mapped data gathered from hundreds of thousands of crowdfunding exercises.

“That London has taken such a lead was a major surprise. Only two years ago the UK was pretty much nowhere.”

Dr Richard Swart, director of research at the University of California, Berkeley, said the UK’s emergence was not so surprising given the British have already been acknowledged as more digital savvy than other nations.

As far back as 2010, a study by Boston Consulting Group, commissioned by Google, concluded that the UK was world leader in online shopping.

“It is becoming clear the UK is leading the market in many respects,” Dr Swart said.

The US remains the home of the world’s largest crowdfunding websites. Indiegogo, for instance, operates in 224 countries but only 30 per cent of the crowdfunding campaigns it enables are started outside the US.

The Crowdfunding Centre’s data confirms the US still dominates the market in terms of total amount of money raised, totalling almost £135m in the second quarter of 2014.

However, the average raised per campaign in the US during this period, at $429.03, was only slightly more that the $415.19 raised by the average British crowdfunding exercise.

One area of crowdfunding where the UK has a clear lead is people taking an equity stake in ventures. This is thanks in part to the UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, putting in place rules to govern the market much earlier than its US counterpart.

Jeff Lynn, US-born chief executive of London-based equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs, said the British public seemed more willing to adopt new forms of financial services than people in his home nation.

“There is just something in the UK mindset that is open to embracing innovative financial services and the fintech boom is broader over here as a result of that,” he said. “There is a real conservatism in the US in this area due to a feeling that it is not proven.”

 

Source: FT

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