Crowdfunding, a practice that allows start-up firms to raise money from small investors over the internet, picked up steam in 2012 with some $US2.7 billion ($A2.6 billion) invested, a new study shows.
The study released by the research firm Massolution said the amount raised last year was up 81 per cent from 2011.
North America and Europe accounted for more than 95 per cent of the total market.
The group surveyed 308 different crowdfunding platforms, including those allowing investors to make donations and sometimes receive rewards, and others based on lending or equity investments.
It found donation- and reward-based crowdfunding grew 85 per cent to $US1.4 billion last year, and lending-based crowdfunding grew 111 per cent to $US1.2 billion.
Equity-based crowdfunding, which faces greater regulatory scrutiny, grew 30 per cent to $US116 million.
"Consistent with our 2012 forecast, total crowdfunding volume nearly doubled last year, and with regulatory bodies continuing to pave the way, we expect global crowdfunding volumes to exceed $US5 billion in 2013," said Massolution chief executive Carl Esposti.
"While lending-, donation-, and reward-based crowdfunding have thus far been leading this global financial revolution, equity-based crowdfunding is about to take centre stage in the US."
Esposti said a law allowing small investments in exchange for equity is expected to go into effect by the end of 2013 in the US.
The survey showed North America accounted for $US1.6 billion of the total, with a 105 per cent increase last year. Europe funding volumes rose 65 per cent $US945 million.
About 30 per cent of the crowdfunded investments went to social or philanthropic projects, and 16.9 per cent for business and entrepreneurship. Films and performing arts accounted for 11.9 per cent and music 7.5 per cent, the study found.
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