This year has been a tricky one for crowdfunding site Indiegogo, thanks to a number of campaigns using its service to raise money for dubious projects (though there have been some cool uses). It looks like the company is responding with a new feature that offers backers some peace of mind about their investments.
The company is testing an ‘Optional Insurance’ fee that provides a refund if backers do not receive the final product within three months of the estimated delivery date. Indiegogo insurance is being tested on one project at this point — stress-management wearable Olive — where it offers potential peace of mind for a $15 fee on top of the product’s $129 backing price.
The company confirmed to TechCrunch that it is running this test, but it declined to discuss wider plans for insurance.
“Indiegogo regularly develops and tests new features to meet the needs of both funders and campaign owners. This pilot test is currently limited to this individual campaign,” a spokesperson told us.
The introduction of insurance could be significant for Indiegogo, which is widely regarded as the second option for crowdfunding campaigns behind Kickstarter.
One reason for that differentiation is perhaps that Indiegogo is considered to be more relaxed when it comes to regulating and filtering its more fanciful projects/those that appear to be straight-up frauds.
Earlier this year, TechCrunch’s Matt Burns wrote about the risk of backing crowdfunded projects, highlighting a number of projects hosted on Indiegogo. In particular, he pointed out that Indiegogo’s ‘flexible funding’ option — which allows companies to collect their fundraising total in full, regardless of whether they hit their target raise, minus a fee for Indiegogo — can remove some of the accountability behind crowdfunding.
Introducing insurance could help backers mitigate the risk of never getting that too-good-to-be-true project they backed, and that would be a welcome step, but there are still many other bets involved when backing projects on Indiegogo, Kickstarter or similar services.
Indiegogo raised a $40 million Series B funding round in January, and it is testing the waters in other areas. Back in September, it introduced a ‘Forever Funding’ option that let projects continue to receive donations beyond the standard month-long window that crowdfunding sites typically offer.
Hat tip anonymous TechCrunch tipster