Crowdfunding Payment Gateway Solutions
Crowdfunding is a way to raise money for your project by asking for freewill contributions from a large number of people (that is, from a crowd) via social networks and the internet. In this system, the owner of the project usually asks people to donate small amounts of money, say at least €/$10 per donor.
Crowdfunding typically lasts for a fairly short period, such as a few months.
Although crowdfunding is a short-term source of finance, it, nevertheless, can be used to raise money to launch a long-term project, such as a start-up or a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). There are several multi-million-dollar companies, today, that were initially financed through crowdfunding. Among them is PopSocket, a manufacturer of phone grips, mounts, and cell phone cases. In 2012, the founder of this company, David Barnett, raised $18,591 through Kickstarter. Two years later, he was able to launch the company, and by 2018, it made over $90 million in revenue. Isn't that inspiring? You can try crowdfunding, too.
The ease and convenience of the payment systems used to accept donations are the key features of good crowdfunding platforms. The amount of time a user spends on the platform could affect their willingness to contribute to the project. If they have to spend almost an hour making a bank transfer, they are unlikely to invest in your project, not minding how much they liked it. Therefore, you need to provide a fast payment system for them.
In this article, we will cover the modes of payment processing, the types of crowdfunding platforms, the most popular among them, as well as the payment systems they use.
Manual or Automated Payment Processing?
Manual Payment Processing
This refers to when a crowdfunding platform is heavily dependent on a bank for payment processing. Manual payment processing is a common practice among start-up crowdfunding service providers that are yet to integrate online payment gateways on their platforms. The main problems with this traditional method of payment processing are that it is difficult to scale, likely to suffer from human errors, time-consuming, and relies on the proficiency of a management team instead of an automated system.
Automated Payment Processing
Unlike manual payment processing, an automated payment processing gateway uses the internet and other modern technologies to make your crowdfunding platform easier to manage. It also makes it easier for your customers to use your automated platform. It comes with several fantastic features, which include automated dividend distribution, automated withdrawals, scheduled repayments, auto-investing, additional KYC/AML, an escrow account, and user-friendly wallet management for fundraisers and investors. In addition, it easily scales and processes multiple transactions and a large volume of payments without delays. Therefore, it is better to own or use a crowdfunding platform that is based on automated payment processing.
Types of Crowdfunding Platforms
There are many crowdfunding platforms. They can be categorised as follows:
Reward-based crowdfunding platforms offer special products or services (rewards) to contributors in honour of their sponsorships. An example of such rewards is offering a shout-out on social media in respect of the donor. Rewarding platforms can be used to fund individual or business projects. Examples of them include Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
As a donation
Donation-based crowdfunding platforms are often used for financing humanitarian, charitable, social, or community projects. Examples of such projects include raising money to pay the medical bills of a sick and helpless person, contributing towards building a community park or donating towards lifting a hero out of severe poverty. Since they are meant for non-profit projects, donation-based platforms for crowdfunding do not give any form of rewards to donors for their humanitarian contributions. Examples of such platforms include GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Mightycause, and Indiegogo. Note that GoFundMe is donation-based only, while the others also offer reward-based crowdfunding services.
Loan-based crowdfunding platforms require recipients of money contributed towards their respective projects to return the money to the sponsors with interest added. They include peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms. They serve as a good way to raise capital for your business. LenderKit is a good example of a loan-based platform for crowdfunding.
Investment-based crowdfunding platforms are those that help sponsors to become investors or official parts of any company they financed. It creates a win-win situation for both the lender and the fundraiser, thus, working as a form of equity financing. Examples of such platforms are StartEngine, Goji, LenderKit, and SeedInvest.
Key Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Crowdfunding Payment Gateway
Since there are different crowdfunding payment gateways with their various features and services, we recommend that you lookout for the following when picking a crowdfunding payment gateway:
Geographical coverage: Find out the number of countries that the crowdfunding payment gateway serves. You should ensure that your choice supports creating an account from your location. Also, pay attention to the list of countries from which people can make donations.
Payment processing: The reason for crowdfunding is to raise money online. So, try to choose a crowdfunding payment solution that processes transactions in a way that makes it easy for cash inflow and outflow.
Pricing/service charge: Find out the pricing structure of the crowdfunding payment solution provider. The service charges should be straightforward for you to understand.
API documentation clarity: The ease with which your developers can connect your account to the crowdfunding payment gateway often depends on the clarity of the documentation on how to use the application programming interface (API). The simpler and clearer the documentation, the better for you or your team.
The credibility of the gateway: Avoid extremely risky sites for generating funds via crowdfunding. This will help you to be sure that withdrawing money from the platform will not be a problem or cause for worry. So, find out about the reputation, quality of service, and previous user reviews of the gateway.
KYC/AML authentication: Every good crowdfunding website has Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) authentication systems. These help to protect you from getting defrauded. So, do not use any gateway that does not have these in place.
ISA/IRA integration prospects: If you are intending to use crowdfunding platforms to maximise your return on investment, choose those that offer the possibility to integrate your Individual Savings Account (ISA) or Roth and Individual Retirement Account. It is a tax-efficient way to get involved in long-term investing.
Top Crowdfunding Platforms
The leading crowdfunding platforms with automated payment processing gateways today are the following:
Launched in the United States in 2009, Kickstarter is the platform where creative people raise money and turn their ideas into reality. As of 2022, more than 219,000 projects have received successful funding from about 21 million people and $6.6 billion has been pledged through this platform. Anyone (backers) from anywhere in the world can use a major credit card to support a project on Kickstarter. However, project creation is currently available in only 25 countries in Europe, North America, and other regions.
GoFundMe is a well-known name in the world of internet fundraising and donation-based crowdfunding. It was established in the United States in 2010. Since its inception, it has hosted more than 2 million campaigns and raised more than $5 billion from its community of over 50 million donors. You can use the platform to raise funds for yourself, friends and family, and charity. It is supported in only 19 countries across Europe, North America, and Australia.
Goji is a UK-based equity crowdfunding platform that was established in 2015. Through the provision of online access to private funds, Goji helps investors to obtain equity stakes in early-stage startups, high growth businesses and other unlisted businesses. Goji works with asset managers, fund administrators, and wealth managers to support its customers by helping them efficiently unlock capital.
If you are looking for a platform that can help you build investment gateways tailored to your business preferences, choose LenderKit. It is good for private equity investing, real estate investing, and crowdinvesting. You can use this UK-based platform to build a simple crowdfunding portal to link investors with fundraisers.
Since its inception in 2008, Indiegogo, a US-based company, has helped fund over 800,000 innovative ideas. It now has over 9 million donors from 235 different countries and territories. Indiegogo is where curious humans go to uncover the newest tech and design advancements, from live campaigns to ready-to-ship products.
SeedInvest is an online equity crowdfunding platform that links start-ups with investors. It was formed in the United States in 2012 and officially introduced in 2013. It has attracted over 600,000 investors and assisted over 250 firms in raising over $350 million.
Mightcause makes it easy to raise money for nonprofit projects. It has been assisting nonprofits with online fundraising and donor involvement since 2006. It has funded over 150,000 projects and served as the technology partner for hundreds of community-organised Giving Days (24-hour online fundraising events).
StartEngine, founded in 2014, is an equity-crowdfunding and security-token-issuing platform that assists entrepreneurs in realising their goals by allowing individuals to participate in and hold shares in start-ups and early-growth enterprises. It is based in the United States.
Patreon is a creator-focused membership site headquartered in the United States. It lets artists get compensated for making stuff they and their fans already love and use to add value to the world, such as webcomics, videos, music, and so on. It was created in 2013. People (active supporters) who make payments to content creators via this platform are called “patrons” – they gain membership benefits for using the site. Today, there are over 6 million patrons and more than 200,000 artistic content creators on Patreon.
Lemonway is a modular, compliant, and secure platform for the simplification of payments in Europe. It aids in the management of completely compliant transactions involving sponsors, investors, and project organisers. Lemonway makes it easier for investors and project promoters to connect. Also, through its crowdfunding service, it helps start-ups and small businesses get the most out of their equity investments. Lemonway was created in France in 2007.
Best Payment Solutions for Crowdfunding
Now, apart from the aforementioned crowdfunding platforms, there are other payment solutions that you can use to fund your project online. The following are our best recommendations for a solid, scalable, efficient, secure, safe, and reliable crowdfunding payment system:
Stripe was formed in 2010 in the United States. It has assisted small and large internet companies in developing reliable online payment infrastructures over the years. Some global companies, such as Amazon, Zoom, Shopify, and Slack, use Stripe's tools and APIs to accept, send, and process online payments. It is developer-friendly, provides excellent fraud prevention, and enables e-commerce enterprises to accept a variety of payment methods. It now operates in over 45 countries and accepts over 135 currencies as well as a variety of payment methods.
Tomorrow, which was founded in 2018, is the first German neobank to create an efficient and environmentally innovative banking platform. It is a fast-growing FinTech company specialising in developing ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable banking and investing options. Through its crowd-investing programme, anyone can invest between €100 to €25,000 in a green project appraised to be truly sustainable for all people, the planet, and profit-making. At the end of the term, in return, investors will earn 5% interest on their money invested.
This is a payment solution for crowdfunding platforms. MANGOPAY helps to connect innovative projects with donors. It can easily be integrated into your e-commerce or fundraising website to facilitate the sending and receipt of payments via several payment methods. To achieve this, you only need to use its developer-friendly API and rich online documentation. MANGOPAY was launched in 2013 and is headquartered in Luxembourg.
Managers of crowdfunding platforms are leveraging the internet and digital transformation in banking and cross-border payments to create better solutions for people to raise money and fund thousands of projects/start-ups simultaneously. Every crowdfunding payment gateway or solution provider is unique in its mission and target audience. Therefore, your choice of any platform mentioned in this article should be based on your individual or business needs and knowledge of the capabilities of the system.