FSA eyes easier startup funding rules

Kyodo

The Financial Services Agency is planning to make it easier for startups to raise funds from a wider spectrum of investors via the Internet by letting entities other than licensed securities dealers broker unlisted shares in these businesses, sources said Wednesday.

The plan for so-called crowd funding is intended to address the frustration many startup companies faced with funding difficulties in commercializing new business ideas and technologies, and may emerge as one of the pillars supporting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic growth strategy.

Under the existing financial services regulations, only security houses are allowed to broker shares in privately held companies such as startups.

The agency’s plan calls for a revision of the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law to allow entities other than brokerages to serve as intermediaries in transactions of unlisted stocks.

The agency is planning to introduce a bill to the Diet next year after the plan is referred to the Financial System Council, the sources said. The advisory panel is expected to consider rigorous screening standards for new brokerage entities as a way to protect potential investors, the sources added.

The council will also discuss setting a ceiling on investments that individuals may be allowed to make via the Internet in order to curb financial harm from fraud.