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Finance regulatory norms are changing in India. Can banks keep up?

Finance regulatory norms are changing in India. Can banks keep up?

By Ayesha Kapoor, Product Marketing Specialist at IDcentral.

India ranks as one of the top two countries in the world in terms of digital adoption as per a McKinsey report. Over the last few years, initiatives such as Aadhaar, the national biometric digital identity program, have included over a billion Indians. India has also pioneered the United Payments Interface (UPI), a singular platform available as a mobile app that allows instant and cost-effective money transfer across people and businesses. The prolific use of APIs allows UPI integration with other apps like DigiLocker that make know-your-customer (KYC) processes much faster than before.

In the midst of all this change, cyber threats, changing market dynamics, and evolving compliance laws remain constant challenges for customers as well as organizations in the financial services industry. Added to this is the emergence of digital-first challengers taking advantage of new opportunities presented during the pandemic. For instance, the Government of India announced several stimulus packages to strengthen NBFCs and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and provide liquidity after the COVID-19 outbreak. But experts feel that these funds barely touched the target groups, citing reasons like poor financial education and awareness. On the other hand, new lending players are emerging on the scene but since trust is a vital factor, adoption rates remain low. Thus, even as challengers aim to demonstrate to stakeholders that they can manage credit risk and grow credit metrics, incumbent players need to up their digital nimbleness to prevent customer churn.

Such progress takes a mix of innovation mindsets as well as a favorable regulatory climate. There have been some milestone changes in the financial services landscape within India, driven by progressive amendments from top regulatory bodies. The climate of innovation and progressive regulations is set to attract increasing venture capital funding. At this juncture, data privacy, finance schemes, and incentivizing SMEs to adopt digital payments will set the foundation for faster growth.

India’s financial regulators

Reserve Bank of IndiaThe central bank is the prime regulator for financial services including FinTech in India. Its rules extend across non-banking payment companies. The RBI updates rules and regulations to address market changes and technological advances
UIDAIAs the body responsible for Aadhaar, UIDAI governs the use of Aadhaar by FinTech players across customer onboarding and verification
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)SEBI regulates the securities market, protecting the interests of investors and promoting the market’s development
Ministry of electronics and information technologyThis department empowers citizens by enabling e-Governance through growth in the electronics, IT and ITeS industries, and by providing digital services in a secure cyber space. Some of its programs include e-government, e-industry, e-security, and e-innovation.

Table 1: Main regulatory bodies for financial services in India

Recent eKYC changes

In a circular (dated April 24, 2020), SEBI established guidelines for eKYC for the securities industry. This came as welcome relief for a market that heavily depends on physical verification processes that take up to 12 days. Some of the most pertinent changes are:

– SEBI-registered intermediaries can collect and verify proof of identity and address using government-issued ID cards like Aadhaar card, passport copy, driving license, and voter’s identity card among others.

– Integration with platforms like DigiLocker, eSign, etc., will allow players to adhere to stricter compliance layers like capturing images of wet signatures.

– Market players can design their own app-based KYC for user self-registration.

Similarly, RBI now allows financial service institutions including banks, NBFCs, and payment providers to update KYC using a video-based customer identification process that includes facial recognition and live interactions to capture informed consent. This regulation extends to customer onboarding for individuals, proprietors, and authorized signatories. It also permits the use of DigiLocker for verification of PAN card.

A look at some market trends explains how and why the recent regulations have come to pass. In a bid to reduce time and cost of verification, the Ministry of Finance and RBI introduced changes that allowed e-signatures and eKYC in 2019. Then in 2020, RBI decided to permit video KYC so banks can remotely verify customer identities. This has proved to be a boon for India that, soon after, witnessed a two-month nation-wide lockdown, halting industries across the country.

With this regulation, fortunately, retail banking was able to sustain its operations. A more recent change is the proposed creation of a central KYC registry that will be open to financial institutions to further streamline and reduce cost of eKYC.

About the author

Ayesha Kapoor is a product marketing specialist at IDcentral, a division of Subex. IDcentral’s suite of identity analytics services includes Government ID check, AML/Sanctions/PEP detection, and monitoring, data enrichment, phone, and email risk scores apart from liveness detection and biometric verification.

DISCLAIMER: This Biometric Update Guest Post is submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biometric Update.

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