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How will the GST Impact Financial Services Sector in India?

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been the biggest tax reform in India since 1947. Analysts also expect that it will have a huge impact on various sectors of the Indian economy, especially the service sector. Of the segment comprising banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), the fund-related, fee-based and insurance services will witness significant impact as a result of GST implementation and will see shifts from the way they had been operating earlier.

What is really implied by financial services?

The term ‘financial services’ has not been specifically defined by the GST law. However, to understand the implications of this tax on the financial services sector, we need to consider the supply of goods and services that involve the extension of credit support. These services include but are not limited to:

– Loans
– Lease
– Hire purchase
– Conditional sales
– Securitisation or assignment of receivables
– Acquisition or sale of shares and securities

The compliance towards GST can take some effort in the above fields because of the nature of operations conducted by banks and NBFCs concerning credit products, lease transactions, hire purchase, actionable claims and other funds and non-funds-based services.

The GST rate on banking services and services provided by the NBFCs has been raised from 15% to 18% with the execution of this reform from July 01, 2017 onwards. The GST impact on financial services may further be classified into the following sub-sections:

1. Network of branches to be registered separately

Before the implementation of GST, a bank or NBFC with operations spread across India could discharge its compliance on service tax through one ‘centralised’ registration. After GST regulation, these institutions will be required to get a separate tax registration for each of the states they work in.

As a destination-based tax, GST has a multi-stage collection system. In such a mechanism, the tax is collected at each stage and the credit of tax that was paid at the last stage is available as a set off at the subsequent stage of the transaction. This transfers the tax incidence to different entities more evenly, and helps the industry through improved cash flows and better working capital management.

2. Leveraged and de-leveraged Input Tax Credit 

Earlier, banks and NBFCs had been majorly opting for the reversal of 50% of the Central Value Added Tax (CENVAT) credit that they avail against the inputs and input services, while the CENVAT credit on the capital goods was given without any reversal conditions. Under GST, the 50% of the CENVAT credit that was availed for inputs, input services and capital goods has been reversed. This leaves banks and NBFCs with a decreased credit of 50% on capital goods, and in turn raises the cost of capital.

However, this can be counterbalanced by the advantages posed by operating one’s business in the new taxation scenario. A unified domestic market can help with more opportunities for expansion and reduced production costs enhancing one’s profitability.

3. Evaluation and adjudication 

The impact of GST on banking services and NBFCs will also be felt in terms of evaluation procedures. Service tax was assessed by the particular regulators in the state where a branch is registered. In addition, every registered branch of the concerned bank or NBFC had to validate its position for the chargeability in the respective state and provide a reason for utilising the input tax credit in various states.

The GST assessment will involve more than one assessing authority, and each of them may have a different judgement for the same underlying issue. Although such contradictions can prolong the decision-making process for the financial institutions, the adverse effects of evaluation by one authority can be offset through decisions made by another assessor.

Impact of GST on banking sector – General services 

Banks in India have been levying service tax on most transactions enabled by their systems. These include but are not limited to digital fund transfers, issuance of ATM cards and chequebooks, and ATM withdrawals beyond a specific limit. With GST on financial services, these services will be taxed at the rate of 18% instead of the 15% service tax rate that was being charged earlier. For example, if you withdraw money from an ATM other than your bank’s ATM after exceeding the “free transaction limit”, you are typically charged Rs 20 plus a service tax, which comes to around Rs 23. With the imposition of GST, this amount will go up to Rs 23.60.

However, deeper analysis reveals that such an increase in cost should not be considered a negative GST impact on financial services sector. In the long run, banks will be able to transfer the advantage of input tax credit – enabled under GST – to the customers. Furthermore, services like fixed deposits (FDs) and other bank account deposits that were outside the circle of service tax will continue to remain outside the GST ambit.

A major advantage of GST on financial services and other sectors is that it is a transparent tax and has reduced the number of indirect taxes. It integrates different taxes and ensures that the tax burden is fairly divided between different entities involved in the system. In addition, GST is essentially technology based. The advanced software systems used in its calculation and filing works will reduce the chances of manual errors and will lead to better decision making.

Capital Float too experiences the effect of GST on banking and NBFCs. We find ourselves in the 18% tax bracket, and we maintain our statutory lending policies including low-interest rates and quick disbursement of funds. Taking into account the GST impact on financial services sector, Capital Float will continue to provide the best credit solutions to its clients, customized to adapt to the changes brought by GST on SMEs in various sectors.

Oct 24, 2018

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Why Fintech Lenders are the Best Option to Avail Business Finance

Many start-ups are launched, propelled by a brilliant idea, but often face tough times due to inadequate funds. The first impulse is to turn to banks, which, however, usually refuse requests for a loan for business without security. They also ask for plenty of documents to corroborate the need for the grant and the purpose that it will be used for.

A parallel source of finance for small businesses come in the form of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs). Traditional NBFCs offer loans on terms similar to banks, but they do not hold a banking license. In addition, unlike banks, they cannot accept deposits from public. Other than loans and credit facilities, they can offer retirement planning schemes, money market instruments and underwriting activities.

While small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been turning to banks and NBFCs to get loans, the long-drawn process from application submission to disbursal of funds is still a deterrent for many. After the financial crisis of 2008, there was an even greater need for reliable sources of business finance. Interestingly, the digital technology that gave rise to online banking and e-commerce was also progressing at a fast pace in the same period. This helped to create a new segment of NBFCs in the form of financial technology, known as FinTech companies.

With the aid of complex analytic tools, FinTech companies evaluate credit risk by using an array of customer data, including their digital footprint on social media, e-commerce platforms, smartphone usage and geo-location.

How are business loans by FinTech lenders more convenient than traditional loans for borrowers?

Conventional NBFCs do not usually have a human-centric approach to lending. The lengthy and cumbersome process of applying for business finance that requires piles of physical documents tires out borrowers. Young entrepreneurs who are eager to expand their operations and are confident about returns on their investment cannot afford to wait for long. Also, delays in work can also harm their long-term business interests. They need an alternative source of funds that can cater to their needs more actively.

What draws the digitally perceptive entrepreneurs to a FinTech company is its ability to offer quick loans at competitive rates of interest. Such companies have a holistic approach towards risk assessment and do not ask for heaps of paper-based documents before they start considering an approval for the loan. The basic files needed to check the creditworthiness of the borrower can be uploaded on the encrypted portals of FinTechs.

The advanced machine learning algorithms that these lending platforms employ read through information such as the net earnings of a business, the educational and professional qualification of its owners, the location from which the business operates and the returns on investment that it drew in the past one year. In comparison to this, a traditional NBFC loan is issued to companies that have been in business for at least 3 to 4 years.

Summarily, the prime reasons for which business borrowers prefer FinTech platforms are:

Simplified application process – Instead of visiting a branch in person, they can apply for the business loans from anywhere and at anytime. As the process is digital, all they need is a reliable Internet connection and the soft copies of minimal documents.

Swift funding – Unlike conventional NBFC loans, the funds from a FinTech corporation do not take long to be approved and disbursed.

No prepayment penalties – To make up for their loss on interest due to early pay-off on the loan, banks as well as most NBFCs charge a percentage of the loan amount as penalty. This is not the case with new-age technology based lending organisations. If a borrower can afford to make complete payment on the loan earlier than its stipulated tenure, there are no extra charges.

No hidden charges – You may on occasions have felt surprised when a bank or NBFC told you that there would be a payment protection “insurance premium” charged on your business loan. In the traditional lending sector, such charges are normal. The lending institutions claim that these help in protecting the monthly loan instalments in case sudden sickness or an accident prevents you from making payments on the loan. FinTech organisations do not include such clauses in their agreements. The funds are granted for business expenses in the short term and are approved based on the ability of the borrower to pay back.

The ability of FinTech firms to trawl the online portals and gather data relevant to the borrower’s paying capacity helps in affording more growth opportunities to start-ups. Many SMEs in India have reasonably strong business models, but they still cannot manage to get funds from banks and traditional NBFCs. This shift towards technology-backed alternatives has been favourable for promising ventures.

At the same time, the conventional lending institutions should also understand that FinTech companies are not a threat to their existence. Both these sectors can collaborate with each other in areas such as customer acquisition, product innovation, analytics, sales enablement and cyber security.

The access to innovation through digital peer-to-peer lenders allows NBFCs and banks to create competitive advantages for their own business.

Customer-centric innovation triggered by FinTechs is here to stay. The possibility of getting a loan for business without security or collateral is real. Open architecture-based wealth management tools, Big Data and online financial advice will continue to help entrepreneurs.

As a digital-age lender in this domain, Capital Float uses proprietary algorithms to inspect large amounts of data and evaluate a potential business borrower’s creditworthiness. We offer timely business finance without collateral to SMEs, start-ups, and freelancers to help them bear the expenses that are crucial for their stability and growth in the business world. Our process of judging the payment capacity of businesses is automated, fast and flexible, while also being diligent. If you need loans in less than a week and do not have a very long history in your industry, do not let any refusal from traditional NBFCs discourage you. Visit www.capitalfloat.com to find the business loan best suitable to you.

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