NEW YORK – The mainstream banking move into alternative finance is under way and the latest news points to an avalanche. In a panel discussion held in New York on Tuesday, JP Morgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Diamond said the bank will “look to break into online lending to small businesses by partnering with an existing operator.” In addition, we recently saw news of ING launching crowdfunding services as funding options for small and medium size businesses in the Benelux region. Barclay’s, through its accelerator program, has a large number of companies actively crowdfunding. So how far can Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Royal Bank of Canada and others be behind? Not too far.
I recently read an article by Crowdfunding Capital Advisors about terms such as crowdfunding disappearing and alternative finance, crowdfunding, venture capital, angel investing and other terms simply becoming funding. And I agree it is all just funding. It is funding and it will be available soon to any of the 6 million small and medium size businesses (SMEs) in the U.S. at your local bank branch. And that is the dramatic sea change. The funding doors have been opened to the SMEs that drive our economy and create jobs. And along the line, we have increased the amount of investors that can participate in funding from 8.5 million to more than 200 million by allowing non-accredited investor to invest in startups and SMEs, and lowered the barriers for promoting funding opportunities allowing the use of social media and the Internet.
Equity crowdfunding has been more than three years in the making and is now gaining speed at an unprecedented pace, but more than the monumental regulatory changes that have happened, nothing will compare to the industry growth when the combined muscle of aggressive retail banks gets behind alternative finance. The banking giants fight fiercely for the SME business, they have powerful marketing knowledge sharpened over years with millions invested. Retail banks have the infrastructure, the feet on the ground and banking relationships in place today to grow this industry more than any other factor. And that time is here.