March 23rd, 2017
Autorité des Marchés Financiers looking at opening equity crowdfunding in Québec
The AMF, the provincial authority in Québec in charge of regulating financial markets, held a public consultation on 20th March 2013 at the Tour de la Bourse, 800 Victoria Square, Montréal, on the 11th floor, in the IATA offices. It was a public event that attracted many law firms, investors, crowdfunding portals, as well as various business stakeholders.
The AMF explained in detail that while they were following changes in the US with the JOBS act, and such changes would be interesting for Quebec, they also highlighted security risks and potential for abuse.
A good portion of the consultation was dedicated to the Blanket Order 45-512 Exemption from certain financial statement requirements of Form 45-106F2 Offering Memorandum for Non-Qualifying Issuers, which offers a new, limited exemption to the form requirements of the offering memorandum prospectus exemption (OM exemption).
For Quebec issuers this essentially means a relaxation on audited financial reporting requirements. For unsophisticated investors there is still a $10,000 investor cap in a 12 month period while eligible investors (as defined in NI-45-106) are not subject to a maximum investor cap. The AMF stated that such measures were implemented successfully in western provinces such as Alberta, and they were still assessing why such measures were not popular in Québec.
The changes to the existing OM exemption (e.g., Blanket Order 45-512) were thought by some AMF representatives as suitable measures; however the crowd recognized that these changes do not enable a company to raise money via an internet portal, which is seen as a standard requirement of a successful crowdfunding implementation.
Venture Capitalist such as Chris Arsenault, head of iNovia Capital, suggested that the AMF looked closely at successful portals such as AngelList, SecondMarket, or FundersClub, which have managed to create and sustain trust with its users and who are revolutionizing investment in the United States.
Representatives of business groups communicated that such measures go beyond technology startups. Allowing crowdfunding regulations would give small businesses located in remote Quebec regions the ability to start their business ventures due to heightened community support and online connections. Further, new companies that cannot attract high growth capital due to the nature of their business would have renewed hopes.
While an agenda could not be detailed, the AMF is looking closely at the US. Equity crowdfunding portals would have to be considered as brokers who would need to register with the AMF. We sincerely hope that the AMF shows leadership, with equity crowdfunding rules highly competitive with other markets such as US, Australia or Europe.
In the end, the AMF thanked all parties and encouraged anyone interested in the matter to send questions and comments to email@example.com.
About NCFA Canada Ambassadors Program
The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) has recently launched a nation-wide Ambassadors Program aimed at recognizing, supporting and unifying crowdfunding leaders across the country through collaborative events, education and resource sharing initiatives. With a rapidly evolving and expanding crowdfunding industry, there is a great need for peer to peer collaboration in the areas of research, education and advocacy working together to establish best practices.