BY : Robert Wardrop, Bryan Zhang, Raghavendra Rau & Mia Gray
Since the global financial crisis, alternative finance – which includes financial instruments and distributive channels that emerge outside of the traditional financial system – has thrived in the US, the UK and continental Europe. In particular, online alternative finance, from equity-based crowdfunding to peer-to-peer business lending, and from reward-based crowdfunding to debt-based securities, is supplying credit to SMEs, providing venture capital to start-ups, offering more diverse and transparent ways for consumers to invest or borrow money, fostering innovation, generating jobs and funding worthwhile social causes.
Although a number of studies, including those carried out by the University of Cambridge and its research partners, have documented the rise of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending in the UK, we actually know very little about the size, growth and diversity of various online platform-based alternative finance markets in key European countries. There is no independent, systematic and reliable research to scientifically benchmark the European alternative finance market, nor to inform policy-makers, brief regulators, update the press and educate the public. It is in this context that the University of Cambridge has partnered with EY and 14 leading national/regional industry associations to collect industry data directly from 255 leading platforms in Europe through a web-based questionnaire, capturing an estimated 85-90% of the European online alternative finance market.
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