The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is planning to allow online marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal to sell mutual funds. “There are traditional investors and there are young, computer-savvy people with money to invest at a very early age. We are trying to change how mutual funds are being sold in the country,” SEBI chairman U.K. Sinha said, as indicated by this report by Mint.
Sinha expressed concern that distributors have tight control over the industry and that they are hesitant to promote the direct plan that allows investors to buy units without paying a sales fee. “We’re planning to open up the industry,” he added.
According to a report by global consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCooper’s (pdf), the size of assets under management of mutual fund houses grew Rs 139,600 crore in 2004 to Rs 825,200 crore in 2014. However, the contribution of savings by Indians towards mutual funds is low with 46% of total individual wealth invested in physical assets such as gold and real estate, as indicated by this report by KPMG (pdf). So this represents opportunity for e-tailers to disrupt the market.
Other developments from SEBI
– Earlier in June, Sinha said that the markets regulator will set up a new alternative trading platform for Internet startups to list on the markets and relaxed norms for the same. The lock-in period for investors in start-ups was reduced to six months compared with three years for regular initial public offerings (IPO) and that disclosure norms for them would be significantly reduced.
– In the same month, SEBI allowed foreign venture capital investors (FVCI) to be registered as foreign portfolio investors (FPI) if they meet certain guidelines. More about that here.
– In July, SEBI asked stock exchanges and other key entities to put necessary framework to safeguard systems, networks and databases from cyber attacks in place.“Stock exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations are systemically important market infrastructure institutions (MIIs). As part of the operational risk management, these MIIs need to have robust cyber security framework to provide essential facilities and perform systemically critical functions relating to trading, clearing and settlement in securities market,” SEBI said in a circular.