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Everybody thought we were nuts – TOI

Written by Shilpa Phadnis. 

When Stanford MBA graduates Sashank Rishyasringa and Gaurav Hinduja started online lending startup Capital Float, it was counter-consensus. All around them they had naysayers, including investors who they had approached early on.

“You guys must be nuts -lending is not a business for you.” “It’s an offline business. You guys have to set up branches.” “Why don’t you guys start an e-commerce or a big data company.” These were some of the comments, recalls Sashank. About the only ones who believed in their idea were their parents.

The two worked with Baba Shiv, professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, to shape their idea of democratizing access to capital. “We wanted small and medium businesses to have access to credit on collateral-free terms.People needed loans against their business health and not against personal property,” Sashank says.

Capital Float started in 2013 and is the trade name of Zen Lefin, a non-banking finance company (NBFC) registered with the RBI.

Sashank, who was passionate about policy and development, was an engagement manager with McKinsey & Co in New York and India before he teamed up with Hinduja to start Capital Float. He graduated in economics from Princeton Uni versity and did an MBA from Stanford. Hinduja was the head of operations at Gokaldas Exports, overseeing one of the country’s largest apparel manufacturers.

 Banks, Sashank says, follow a cookie-cutter approach in assessing SMEs.Their lending policies are restrictive, collateral re quirements are inflexible and disbursements take up to 60 days. There are over 3 crore registered SMEs in the country and around Rs 7 lakh crore of loans have been disbursed through banks to them. But estimates show that the unmet demand is over Rs 9 lakh crore. “We wanted to use tech to bring agility to lending, become a lender as fast and flexible as a family member, but do it in a formal way ,” Sashank says.
Capital Float created flexible credit products that have helped SMEs get out of the clutches of informal sector financiers who charge high interest rates. One of the early customers was a mobile phone vendor from Bhilwara in Rajasthan. “He had pledged his house to get seed capital to start his business. He sold mobile phones on Snapdeal and had a great track record. From Rs 5 lakh a year back, he runs a Rs 50 lakh credit line with us today ,” Sashank says.
Capital Float has partnered with e-commerce marketplaces like Snapdeal, Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm to finance small merchants selling online. “We give an in-principle approval in 10-15 minutes after assessing the credit risk. Borrowers can apply online in minutes, select desired repayment terms and receive funds in their bank accounts in seven days with minimal hassle. We want to benchmark lending to the ecommerce experience,” Sashank says.
The company uses proprietary algorithms to check fraud and repayment history , and uses psychometrics to assess entrepreneurs’ payment ability . “We have taken the human bias out of financing and lowered the cost of lending,” Sashank says.

Now, with Rs 200 crore of loans disbursed, and $17 million raised from investors including SAIF Partners and Aspada, the early scepticism around their venture has more or less vanished.

News piece sourced from the Times of India. Read the original article here

Oct 24, 2018

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What Is GST And How To Register For It

India is all set to implement the Goods and Services Tax, or the GST, from July 1, 2017. The intent is to standardise the indirect taxation system in the country, related to the supplies and consumption of goods and services. The new regime is one of the biggest indirect tax reforms pan-India, and one that will directly affect both business owners and consumers to a marked degree. It is thus important to know the whats and hows of the GST rollout.

What is GST?

GST is a new system for indirect taxation. Under this, a new four-tier tax structure has been finalised. Goods and services will be taxed under the slabs of 5%, 12%, 18% or 28%. The highest slab is for luxury items and items such as tobacco. The Union Cabinet has passed four bills for four different categories of tax regimes under the GST, as follows:

Central GST Bill: Applies to the supply of goods and services by the Central government within the boundaries of a state.

Integrated GST Bill: Applies to the supply of goods and services between different states, carried out by the Central Government.

Union Territory GST Bill: Applies to the supply of goods and services in the Union Territories.

The Compensation Bill: An allied bill that will govern the provision of compensation for revenue losses brought on by GST implementation, over a period of five years from implementation.

These four bills together are set to change the tax norms in the country.

Advantages of GST

The GST will prove advantageous at both seller and consumer levels. According to our Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, GST has the potential to boost economic growth by as much as two percentage points. From a business perspective, a number of pros are evident.

Greater compliance: The GST implementation will be reinforced by a backbone of robust IT systems and processes. All taxpayer services will be available online, making tax compliance and operations simple and transparent.

Uniform tax rates: This will ensure that tax structures and rates are common across the country, and will consequently make cross-locational business easier and quicker.

Reduce overlap: Often, a single product, for example, a shirt, being sold is taxed at various stages. With VAT, excise duty and other taxes payable at different stages, payments often roll up to large numbers, posing a cost to the company. The GST will facilitate the removal of different layers of tax levies and will replace them with a single, clear interface.

Cost advantage: Under the GST practice, many local Central and State taxes will be subsumed. At the Central level, the Central Excise Duty, Additional Excise Duty, Service Tax, Countervailing Duty and Special Additional Customs Duty will be subsumed. At the State level, we will see the following getting subsumed: State Value Added Tax or Sales Tax, Entertainment Tax, Octroi, Purchase Tax, and Luxury Tax, to name a few. These measures will reduce the cost of manufactured goods or services, thereby increasing the competitiveness of Indian goods in an increasingly global market.

The end consumer also stands to benefit from the following:

Better tax clarity and planning: Often, consumers are not aware of the taxes that they pay on the purchased goods or services, either due to the confusion caused by multiple indirect taxes or because the tax component is not revealed in the selling price. Such taxes may mask the real cost. GST will help streamline this by having only one tax applied from manufacturer to consumer, enabling tax transparency.

Lesser tax burdens: A single rollout across the nation is bound to bring in efficiency gains. At the same time, a transparent tax process with fewer hidden taxes will help reduce taxes for most commodities, leading to better affordability for the consumer.

The next steps for businesses: Applying for GST

Every business that is currently registered under any existing tax regime has to compulsorily migrate to GST. If your business is not registered under any tax regime, then you have to register for GST only if your aggregate turnover in a financial year exceeds a threshold limit of 20 lakhs liability for payment of tax (10 lakhs for North Eastern states).

If your business is happening inter-state or through e-commerce as an intermediary supplier, then registration is mandatory, even if this threshold limit is not reached. However, note that any casual taxable person or non-resident person is liable to register for GST even if they are not crossing the threshold limit.

Registration/ enrollment for GST is to be completed online under the GST Common Portal https://www.gst.gov.in/ for both taxpayers and businesses. This will be the platform for future filing of returns and tax payments. The government has also appointed GST Suvidha Providers to help with the process. There is no offline process for GST enrolment.

The enrolment is free. In order to log in for the first time into the portal, you must have your username and password that you would have received from the State VAT or Centre Tax Department (these are linked to your PAN). For further logins, create your username and password and begin the enrollment process.

These are the steps to follow for registration:

  1. Fill in Form GST REG-01-Part A, and key in the PAN number, mobile number and email address. The PAN will be verified online while the mobile number and email ID will be verified through the one-time password (OTP).
  2. The applicant will then receive an application reference number along with an acknowledgement of application through FORM GST REG-02.
  3. The applicant must fill the Form GST REG-01-Part B with the applicant’s reference number. The applicant must attach required documents: PAN card, documentation of company such as partnership deed, memorandum of association or incorporation certificate, proof of business such as rent agreement or electricity bill, cancelled cheque of company bank account in the account holder’s name, and proof of key authorised signatories such as list of directors or list of partners with their ID and address proof.
  4. If any additional information is required, the applicant will receive Form GST REG-03 as notification and must fill in and submit Form GST REG-04 within seven days.
  5. On submitting all details correctly, the application will be approved and the applicant will receive their registration certificate, called Form GST REG-06. However, if the application is rejected, Form GST REG-05 is sent to the applicant and they will be required to resubmit an application through Form GST REG-07, only if they need to deduct TDS or collect TCS.

This completes the registration process. It is followed by the issuance of a Provisional Registration Certificate (if approved), and thereafter, a final Registration Certificate that is expected to be issued within six months of the documents being verified by the GST authorities. Remember that different business verticals/locations need to be registered separately, as the registration certificate is generated separately for each.

Currently, the portal states that more than 60 lakh taxpayers have enrolled on the GST Portal between November 08, 2016 and April 30, 2017. Please note that the enrolment process has closed from May 1, 2017, and will reopen at a later date. Visit our GST blog to know more about GST and keep track of latest

Oct 24, 2018

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Impact of the Union Budget 2018 on Individuals

The Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, announced the Union Budget 2018 on 1st February 2018 with components possessing the potential to have a transformational influence on various sectors of the economy. The current Indian economy has reached US$ 2.5 Trillion and is on its way to becoming the 5th largest in the world. GDP is projected at 7.4 % while the number of taxpayers has increased from 6.47 crores to 8.27 crores and a direct tax revenue growth rate of 18.7% has been achieved as of January 15th. The Union Budget is poised to leverage this upward trajectory and provide the impetus for further development at a macro and micro level. Many of the provisions in the Budget directly impact the daily life of a common man. This blog intends to dwell upon these provisions.

Health, Housing and Employment Receives a Major Boost

NHPS (National Health Protection Scheme) dubbed as the world’s largest government-funded healthcare program will be extended to provide up to ₹5 lakh towards hospitalisation for 10 crore families and ultimately 50 crore actual beneficiaries from underprivileged backgrounds.

Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) has been announced to ensure housing for all by 2022. Under this program, 51 lakh houses in 2017-18 and 2018-19 each will be constructed in rural areas with 37 lakh houses in urban areas.

₹40,000 crores worth of concessions were announced for senior citizens. The annual exemption limit on interest income from fixed and recurring deposit schemes including small savings instruments has been increased from ₹10,000 to ₹50,000 in addition to increasing the ceiling for Section 80D from ₹30,000 to ₹50,000.

To facilitate employment generation, Government will contribute 12% of wages to EPF for 3 years. The Finance Ministry has also reduced EPF deduction to 8% for women employees thus significantly increasing their take-home salary while maintaining employer contribution at 12%.

A Huge Fillip to Travel and Transportation – Growth and Modernisation

Travel and transportation received a huge fillip across roads, railways and civil aviation. ₹1,48,528 crores have been reserved for boosting railway network capacity and gauge conversion. Over 4000 km will be electrified in addition to redeveloping over 600 major railway stations and progressively equipping all stations and trains with Wi-Fi and CCTV. ₹17,000 crores have also been allotted for augmenting Bangalore’s suburban railway network. The Government will quintuple the number of airports to 124 and connect hitherto unserved 56 airports and 36 heliports under UDAN, the regional connectivity program.  Around 9000 km of highways will be completed by the end of FY 2017-18 and over 35,000 km of interior roads will be completed in Phase 1.

Digital India – Integrated Education and Research – Major Focus

Under the massive ₹3,073 crore Digital India Program, over 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots will be set up to provide broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens. This opens up an avenue for individuals in rural India to access formal finance from digital lenders via the internet. New centres of excellence in the areas of AI, Big Data, Quantum communication and Internet of Things (IoT) will be established to boost indigenous intellectual capital in these crucial areas. An additional ₹14,500 crores have been earmarked for strengthening telecom infrastructure including BharatNet. To harness emerging technologies, particularly 5G, an indigenous Test Bed at IIT, Chennai will receive ₹135 crores.

The Government has launched a new program RISE (Revitalization of Infrastructure and Systems in Education) funded by a non-banking financing agency HEFA (Higher Education Financing Agency) with ₹1 lakh crore. In higher education, under the Prime Minister’s Research Fellow Scheme, 1000 B.Tech students will be identified and facilitated to complete PhD at India’s prestigious institutes.  Up to 24 new medical colleges are to be started and upgrade of several existing colleges was announced to ensure at least one Government College for each state in India. Two new schools of planning and architecture will also be set up in addition to 18 more IIT/NIITs.

Personal Tax

On the personal income tax front, there are no new changes in income tax slabs or structure.  However, a standard deduction of ₹ 40,000 will be introduced in lieu of transport and medical allowances while a higher allowance will be allowed for disabled individuals. From April 1, 2018, long-term capital gains of more than ₹ 1 Lakh will be taxed at 10% though gains until January 31, 2018, and will be grandfathered. Dividends from equity Mutual Funds will now attract DDT to perhaps discourage investors investing in Equity funds primarily for dividends. In an effort to promote gold as an attractive asset class, the existing Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS) will be made more investor-friendly and a network of regulated gold exchanges will be set up.

Balanced Budget

Though the budget was projected as agriculture-oriented and farmer-friendly, it is balanced and well-intentioned. Huge boost to expanding and upgrading transportation infrastructure especially the railways and supporting underprivileged with healthcare, housing and employment are the cornerstones of this Union Budget.  Substantial measures in the areas of digital economy and education pave the way towards India becoming an economic superpower.

Oct 24, 2018