The purpose of the partnership is, primarily, to provide a “fast-track service” for local businesses wishing to equity crowdfund on the Seedrs platform. The second objective is to raise awareness of equity crowdfunding in the business communities of the two countries.
The new relationship appears to have taken the form of a referrals scheme, with ING directing the businesses which it believes may be suitable for equity funding towards the Seedrs platform. These referred businesses will be given access to a fast track "campaign review" process. ING will also be referring businesses to the French rewards-based crowdfunder KissKissBankBank where appropriate.
ING will first explain to prospective fundraisers which of the platforms it deems to be best suited to their needs. Entrepreneurs may then apply to be reviewed by either the Seedrs of KissKissBankBank platform in just a couple of clicks. Seedrs states that it will have assessed and approved or rejected such applications within two days. If successful, the platform will then assist entrepreneurs in the fundraising process.
The idea behind this “fast-track” system is of course to speed up the process through which small businesses gain access to finance. The new tie-up is somewhat reminiscent of the deals that were struck with RBS and Santander by Funding Circle. These arrangements entail the referral of small business loan applicants – applicants that do not suit the requirements of the bank – to the Funding Circle platform. But Funding Circle does not cater to startups. The news that Seedrs and ING are partnering is the first time (to our knowledge) that we’ve seen a major bank actively referring businesses to the equity segment of the alternative finance space.
Erik Van Den Eynden, Head of Midcorporates & Institutionals ING Belgium, weighed in on the move:
“In our efforts to help our customers keep a step ahead in their business, we are going further than traditional bankers. Our partnership with KissKissBankBank and Seedrs is an example. Our aim is to strengthen our customers’ projects and to support them in the growth of their business. Our role is therefore much larger than that of your classic lender: we are a collaborative partner and advisor.”
It comes as no surprise that Seedrs, fresh off of a £10m Series A fundraise that saw the platform attain the backing of the acclaimed fund manager Neil Woodford, is intensifying its efforts to capture large parts of the European market. The platform in fact has even grander global aspirations, and announced a move into the US market in early November 2014. We’ll be hearing from Adam Kaufman, who heads up the US operation, on November 2nd at the AltFi Global Summit 2015.
“We are very excited to be working together with ING in making equity crowdfunding more easily available to the Belgian business community. To our knowledge this is the first time that a well-respected, global financial institution like ING has partnered with a leading international equity crowdfunding platform like Seedrs, and we think this relationship is very encouraging for the future of business finance. We’re proud to have been chosen as ING’s partner for this venture, and we see our selection as further validation of our ‘equity crowdfunding done properly’ approach.”