On the Role of Provision Points in Online Crowdfunding
Forthcoming, Journal of Management Information Systems
36 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2017 Last revised: 15 Jan 2018
Date Written: September 23, 2017
Extending recent work on market mechanisms in new fintech offerings, we explore the implications of a key mechanism in online crowdfunding – the use of a provision point. Under a provision point mechanism (otherwise known as all-or-nothing or fixed fundraising scheme), the fundraiser, typically an entrepreneur, only receives funds pledged toward his or her campaign if a pre-registered fundraising target is met, rather than keeping everything that is raised. On the one hand, provision points may weaken contributors’ reliance on prior capital accumulation for judging a project’s potential for success, by eliminating their concerns about a partial fundraising outcome and by signaling the project or entrepreneur’s quality. On the other hand, provision points may induce a stronger reliance on prior capital accumulation by imposing a positive externality among contributors; the materialization of a contributor’s contribution depends explicitly on having enough contribution from others. We assess this tension empirically, examining a proprietary data set from a leading global reward-based crowdfunding platform that allows entrepreneurs to choose whether to apply a provision point. We separately consider the effects of prior capital accumulation on campaign visitors’ conversion and contribution behaviors, and how the effects shift in the presence of a provision point at different stages of the campaign lifecycle. Provision points are found to significantly weaken the association between prior capital accumulation and visitor conversion, implying a reduction in the potential for herd behavior or informational cascades.
Keywords: crowdfunding, mechanism design, fintech, provision point mechanism, social proof
JEL Classification: G21, G24, G32, L26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation