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The Reserve Bank of India is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating and supervising the Non-Banking Financial Companies by virtue of powers vested in Chapter III B of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. The regulatory and supervisory objective, is to:
a) ensure healthy growth of the financial companies;
b) ensure that these companies function as a part of the financial system within the policy framework, in such a manner that their existence and functioning do not lead to systemic aberrations; and that
c) the quality of surveillance and supervision exercised by the Bank over the NBFCs is sustained by keeping pace with the developments that take place in this sector of the financial system.
It has been felt necessary to explain the rationale underlying the regulatory changes and provide clarification on certain operational matters for the benefit of the NBFCs, members of public, rating agencies, Chartered Accountants etc. To meet this need, the clarifications in the form of questions and answers, is being brought out by the Reserve Bank of India (Department of Non-Banking Supervision) with the hope that it will provide better understanding of the regulatory framework.
The information given in the FAQ is of general nature for the benefit of depositors/public and the clarifications given do not substitute the extant regulatory directions/instructions issued by the Bank to the NBFCs.
Frequently Asked Questions on NBFCs
1. What is a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC)?
A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, chit business but does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of immovable property. A non-banking institution which is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in installments by way of contributions or in any other manner, is also a non-banking financial company (Residuary non-banking company).
2. NBFCs are doing functions similar to banks. What is difference between banks & NBFCs ?
NBFCs lend and make investments and hence their activities are akin to that of banks; however there are a few differences as given below:
i. NBFC cannot accept demand deposits;
ii. NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself;
iii. deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.
3. Is it necessary that every NBFC should be registered with RBI?
In terms of Section 45-IA of the RBI Act, 1934, no Non-banking Financial company can commence or carry on business of a non-banking financial institution without a) obtaining a certificate of registration from the Bank and without having a Net Owned Funds of Rs. 25 lakhs (Rs two crore since April 1999). However, in terms of the powers given to the Bank. to obviate dual regulation, certain categories of NBFCs which are regulated by other regulators are exempted from the requirement of registration with RBI viz. Venture Capital Fund/Merchant Banking companies/Stock broking companies registered with SEBI, Insurance Company holding a valid Certificate of Registration issued by IRDA, Nidhi companies as notified under Section 620A of the Companies Act, 1956, Chit companies as defined in clause (b) of Section 2 of the Chit Funds Act, 1982,Housing Finance Companies regulated by National Housing Bank, Stock Exchange or a Mutual Benefit company.
4. What are the different types/categories of NBFCs registered with RBI?
NBFCs are categorized a) in terms of the type of liabilities into Deposit and Non-Deposit accepting NBFCs, b) non deposit taking NBFCs by their size into systemically important and other non-deposit holding companies (NBFC-NDSI and NBFC-ND) and c) by the kind of activity they conduct. Within this broad categorization the different types of NBFCs are as follows:
Asset Finance Company(AFC) : An AFC is a company which is a financial institution carrying on as its principal business the financing of physical assets supporting productive/economic activity, such as automobiles, tractors, lathe machines, generator sets, earth moving and material handling equipments, moving on own power and general purpose industrial machines. Principal business for this purpose is defined as aggregate of financing real/physical assets supporting economic activity and income arising therefrom is not less than 60% of its total assets and total income respectively.
Investment Company (IC) : IC means any company which is a financial institution carrying on as its principal business the acquisition of securities,
Loan Company (LC): LC means any company which is a financial institution carrying on as its principal business the providing of finance whether by making loans or advances or otherwise for any activity other than its own but does not include an Asset Finance Company.
Infrastructure Finance Company (IFC): IFC is a non-banking finance company a) which deploys at least 75 per cent of its total assets in infrastructure loans, b) has a minimum Net Owned Funds of Rs. 300 crore, c) has a minimum credit rating of ‘A ‘or equivalent d) and a CRAR of 15%.
Systemically Important Core Investment Company (CIC-ND-SI): CIC-ND-SI is an NBFC carrying on the business of acquisition of shares and securities which satisfies the following conditions:-
(a) it holds not less than 90% of its Total Assets in the form of investment in equity shares, preference shares, debt or loans in group companies;
(b) its investments in the equity shares (including instruments compulsorily convertible into equity shares within a period not exceeding 10 years from the date of issue) in group companies constitutes not less than 60% of its Total Assets;
(c) it does not trade in its investments in shares, debt or loans in group companies except through block sale for the purpose of dilution or disinvestment;
(d) it does not carry on any other financial activity referred to in Section 45I(c) and 45I(f) of the RBI act, 1934 except investment in bank deposits, money market instruments, government securities, loans to and investments in debt issuances of group companies or guarantees issued on behalf of group companies.
(e) Its asset size is Rs 100 crore or above and
(f) It accepts public funds
Infrastructure Debt Fund: Non- Banking Financial Company (IDF-NBFC) : IDF-NBFC is a company registered as NBFC to facilitate the flow of long term debt into infrastructure projects. IDF-NBFC raise resources through issue of Rupee or Dollar denominated bonds of minimum 5 year maturity. Only Infrastructure Finance Companies (IFC) can sponsor IDF-NBFCs.
Non-Banking Financial Company - Micro Finance Institution (NBFC-MFI): NBFC-MFI is a non-deposit taking NBFC having not less than 85%of its assets in the nature of qualifying assets which satisfy the following criteria:
a. loan disbursed by an NBFC-MFI to a borrower with a rural household annual income not exceeding Rs. 60,000 or urban and semi-urban household income not exceeding Rs. 1,20,000;
b. loan amount does not exceed Rs. 35,000 in the first cycle and Rs. 50,000 in subsequent cycles;
c. total indebtedness of the borrower does not exceed Rs. 50,000;
d. tenure of the loan not to be less than 24 months for loan amount in excess of Rs. 15,000 with prepayment without penalty;
e. loan to be extended without collateral;
f. aggregate amount of loans, given for income generation, is not less than 75 per cent of the total loans given by the MFIs;
g. loan is repayable on weekly, fortnightly or monthly instalments at the choice of the borrower
Non-Banking Financial Company – Factors (NBFC-Factors): NBFC-Factor is a non-deposit taking NBFC engaged in the principal business of factoring. The financial assets in the factoring business should constitute at least 75 percent of its total assets and its income derived from factoring business should not be less than 75 percent of its gross income.
5. What are the requirements for registration with RBI?
A company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 and desirous of commencing business of non-banking financial institution as defined under Section 45 I(a) of the RBI Act, 1934 should comply with the following:
i. it should be a company registered under Section 3 of the companies Act, 1954
ii. It should have a minimum net owned fund of Rs 200 lakh. (The minimum net owned fund (NOF) required for specialized NBFCs like NBFC-MFIs, NBFC-Factors, CICs is indicated separately in the FAQs on specialized NBFCs)
6. What is the procedure for application to the Reserve Bank for Registration?
The applicant company is required to apply online and submit a physical copy of the application along with the necessary documents to the Regional Office of the Reserve Bank of India. The application can be submitted online by accessing RBI’s secured website https://cosmos.rbi.org.in . At this stage, the applicant company will not need to log on to the COSMOS application and hence user ids are not required.. The company can click on “CLICK” for Company Registration on the login page of the COSMOS Application. A window showing the Excel application form available for download would be displayed. The company can then download suitable application form (i.e. NBFC or SC/RC) from the above website, key in the data and upload the application form. The company may note to indicate the correct name of the Regional Office in the field “C-8” of the “Annex-Identification Particulars” in the Excel application form. The company would then get a Company Application Reference Number for the CoR application filed on-line. Thereafter, the company has to submit the hard copy of the application form (indicating the online Company Application Reference Number, along with the supporting documents, to the concerned Regional Office. The company can then check the status of the application from the above mentioned secure address, by keying in the acknowledgement number.
7. What are the essential documents required to be submitted along with the application form to the Regional Office of the Reserve Bank?
A hard copy of the application form is available at www.rbi.org.in ? Site Map ? NBFC List ? Forms and Returns. An indicative checklist of the documents required to be submitted along with the application can be accessed from www.rbi.org.in ? Site Map ? NBFC List ? Forms and Returns ? Documents required for registration as NBFCs.
8. Where can one find list of Registered NBFCs and instructions issued to NBFCs?
The list of registered NBFCs is available on the web site of Reserve Bank of India and can be viewed at www.rbi.org.in ? Sitemap ? NBFC List. The instructions issued to NBFCs from time to time are also hosted at www.rbi.org.in ? Sitemap ? NBFC List. ? NBFC Notifications, besides, being issued through Official Gazette notifications and press releases.
9. Can all NBFCs accept deposits?
All NBFCs are not entitled to accept public deposits. Only those NBFCs to which the Bank had given a specific authorisation are allowed to accept/hold public deposits.
10. Is there any ceiling on acceptance of Public Deposits? What is the rate of interest and period of deposit which NBFCs can accept?
Yes, there is a ceiling on acceptance of Public Deposits by NBFCs authorized to accept deposits.. An NBFC maintaining required minimum NOF,/Capital to Risk Assets Ratio (CRAR) and complying with the prudential norms can accept public deposits as follows:
Category of NBFC having minimum NOF of Rs 200 lakhs
Ceiling on public deposit
AFC* maintaining CRAR of 15% without credit rating
1.5 times of NOF or Rs 10 crore whichever is less
AFC with CRAR of 12% and having minimum investment grade credit rating 4 times of NOF
LC/IC** with CRAR of 15% and having minimum investment grade credit rating
1.5 times of NOF
* AFC = Asset Finance Company
** LC/IC = Loan company/Investment Company
As has been notified on June 17, 2008 the ceiling on level of public deposits for NBFCs accepting deposits but not having minimum Net Owned Fund of Rs 200 lakh is revised as under:
Category of NBFC having NOF more
than Rs 25 lakh but less than Rs 200 lakh
Revised Ceiling on public deposits
AFCs maintaining CRAR of 15% without credit rating
Equal to NOF
AFCs with CRAR of 12% and having minimum investment grade credit rating
1.5 times of NOF
LCs/ICs with CRAR of 15% and having minimum investment grade credit rating
Equal to NOF
Presently, the maximum rate of interest an NBFC can offer is 12.5%. The interest may be paid or compounded at rests not shorter than monthly rests
The NBFCs are allowed to accept/renew public deposits for a minimum period of 12 months and maximum period of 60 months. They cannot accept deposits repayable on demand.
11. What are the salient features of NBFCs regulations which the depositor may note at the time of investment?
Some of the important regulations relating to acceptance of deposits by NBFCs are as under:
The NBFCs are allowed to accept/renew public deposits for a minimum period of 12 months and maximum period of 60 months. They cannot accept deposits repayable on demand.
NBFCs cannot offer interest rates higher than the ceiling rate prescribed by RBI from time to time. The present ceiling is 12.5 per cent per annum. The interest may be paid or compounded at rests not shorter than monthly rests.
NBFCs cannot offer gifts/incentives or any other additional benefit to the depositors.
NBFCs (except certain AFCs) should have minimum investment grade credit rating.
The deposits with NBFCs are not insured.
The repayment of deposits by NBFCs is not guaranteed by RBI.
Certain mandatory disclosures are to be made about the company in the Application Form issued by the company soliciting deposits.
12. What is ‘deposit’ and ‘public deposit’? Is it defined anywhere?
The term ‘deposit’ is defined under Section 45 I(bb) of the RBI Act, 1934. ‘Deposit’ includes and shall be deemed always to have included any receipt of money by way of deposit or loan or in any other form but does not include:
amount raised by way of share capital, or contributed as capital by partners of a firm;
amount received from a scheduled bank, a co-operative bank, a banking company, Development bank, State Financial Corporation, IDBI or any other institution specified by RBI;
amount received in ordinary course of business by way of security deposit, dealership deposit, earnest money, advance against orders for goods, properties or services;
amount received by a registered money lender other than a body corporate;
amount received by way of subscriptions in respect of a ‘Chit’.
Paragraph 2(1)(xii) of the Non-Banking Financial Companies Acceptance of Public Deposits ( Reserve Bank) Directions, 1998 defines a ‘ public deposit’ as a ‘deposit’ as defined under Section 45 I(bb) of the RBI Act, 1934 and further excludes the following:
amount received from the Central/State Government or any other source where repayment is guaranteed by Central/State Government or any amount received from local authority or foreign government or any foreign citizen/authority/person;
any amount received from financial institutions specified by RBI for this purpose;
any amount received by a company from any other company;
amount received by way of subscriptions to shares, stock, bonds or debentures pending allotment or by way of calls in advance if such amount is not repayable to the members under the articles of association of the company;
amount received from shareholders by private company;
amount received from directors or relative of the director of an NBFC;
amount raised by issue of bonds or debentures secured by mortgage of any immovable property or other asset of the company subject to conditions;
the amount brought in by the promoters by way of unsecured loan;
amount received from a mutual fund;
any amount received as hybrid debt or subordinated debt;
any amount received by issuance of Commercial Paper.
any amount received by a systemically important non-deposit taking non-banking financial company by issuance of ‘perpetual debt instruments’
any amount raised by the issue of infrastructure bonds by an Infrastructure Finance Company
Thus, the directions exclude from the definition of public deposit, amount raised from certain set of informed lenders who can make independent decision.
13. Are Secured debentures treated as Public Deposit? If not who regulatesthem?
Debentures secured by the mortgage of any immovable property of the company or by any other asset or with an option to convert them into shares in the company, if the amount raised does not exceed the market value of the said immovable property or other assets, are excluded from the definition of ‘Public Deposit’ in terms of Non-Banking Financial Companies Acceptance of Public Deposits (Reserve Bank) Directions, 1998. Secured debentures are debt instruments and are regulated by Securities & Exchange Board of India.
14. Whether NBFCs can accept deposits from NRIs?
Effective from April 24, 2004, NBFCs cannot accept deposits from NRIs except deposits by debit to NRO account of NRI provided such amount does not represent inward remittance or transfer from NRE/FCNR (B) account. However, the existing NRI deposits can be renewed.
15. Is nomination facility available to the Depositors of NBFCs?
Yes, nomination facility is available to the depositors of NBFCs. The Rules for nomination facility are provided for in section 45QB of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. Non-Banking Financial Companies have been advised to adopt the Banking Companies (Nomination) Rules, 1985 made under Section 45ZA of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. Accordingly, depositor/s of NBFCs are permitted to nominate one person to whom the NBFC can return the deposit in the event of the death of the depositor/s. NBFCs are advised to accept nominations made by the depositors in the form similar to one specified under the said rules, viz Form DA 1 for the purpose of nomination, and Form DA2 and DA3 for cancellation of nomination and change of nomination respectively.
16. What else should a depositor bear in mind while depositing money with NBFCs?
While making deposits with an NBFC, the following aspects should be borne in mind:
Public deposits are unsecured.
A proper deposit receipt is issued, giving details such as the name of the depositor/s, the date of deposit, the amount in words and figures, rate of interest payable and the date of repayment of matured deposit along with the maturity amount. Depositor/s should insist on the above and also ensure that the receipt is duly signed and stamped by an officer authorised by the company on its behalf.
In the case of brokers/agents etc collecting public deposits on behalf of NBFCs, the depositors should satisfy themselves that the brokers/agents are duly authorized by the NBFC.
The Reserve Bank of India does not accept any responsibility or guarantee about the present position as to the financial soundness of the company or for the correctness of any of the statements or representations made or opinions expressed by the company and for repayment of deposits/discharge of the liabilities by the company.
Deposit Insurance facility is not available to the depositors of NBFCs.
17. It is said that rating of NBFCs is necessary before it accepts deposit? Is it true? Who rates them?
An unrated NBFC, except certain Asset Finance companies (AFC), cannot accept public deposits. An exception is made in case of unrated AFC companies with CRAR of 15% which can accept public deposit without having a credit rating up to a certain ceiling depending upon its Net Owned Funds (refer answer to Q 10). NBFC may get itself rated by any of the five rating agencies namely, CRISIL, CARE, ICRA and FITCH, Ratings India Pvt. Ltd and Brickwork Ratings India Pvt. Ltd
18. What are the symbols of minimum investment grade rating of different companies?
The symbols of minimum investment grade rating of the Credit rating agencies are:
Name of rating agencies
Nomenclature of minimum investment
grade credit rating (MIGR)
FA- (FA MINUS)
MA- (MA MINUS)
CARE BBB (FD)
FITCH Ratings India Pvt. Ltd.
Brickwork Ratings India Pvt. Ltd.
BWR FA (FD)
It may be added that A- is not equivalent to A, AA- is not equivalent to AA and AAA- is not equivalent to AAA.
19. Can an NBFC which is yet to be rated accept public deposit?
No, an NBFC cannot accept deposit without rating (except an Asset Finance Company complying with prudential norms and having CRAR of 15%, as explained above in answer to Q 10).
20. When a company’s rating is downgraded, does it have to bring down its level of public deposits immediately or over a period of time?
If rating of an NBFC is downgraded to below minimum investment grade rating, it has to stop accepting public deposits, report the position within fifteen working days to the RBI and bring within three years from the date of such downgrading of credit rating, the amount of public deposit to nil or to the appropriate extent permissible under paragraph 4(4) of Non-Banking Financial Companies Acceptance of Public Deposits (Reserve Bank) Directions, 1998.
21. In case an NBFC defaults in repayment of deposit what course of action can be taken by depositors?
If an NBFC defaults in repayment of deposit, the depositor can approach Company Law Board or Consumer Forum or file a civil suit in a court of law to recover the deposits.
22. What is the role of Company Law Board in protecting the interest of depositors? How can one approach it?
When an NBFC fails to repay any deposit or part thereof in accordance with the terms and conditions of such deposit, the Company Law Board (CLB) either on its own motion or on an application from the depositor, directs by order the Non-Banking Financial Company to make repayment of such deposit or part thereof forthwith or within such time and subject to such conditions as may be specified in the order. After making the payment, the company will need to file the compliance with the local office of the Reserve Bank of India.
As explained above, the depositor can approach CLB by mailing an application in prescribed form to the appropriate bench of the Company Law Board according to its territorial jurisdiction along with the prescribed fee.
23. Can you give the addresses of the various benches of the Company Law Board (CLB) indicating their respective jurisdiction?