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).
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, 1956
ii. It should have a minimum net owned fund of ₹ 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)
If companies that are required to be registered with the Reserve Bank as NBFCs, are found to be conducting non-banking financial activity, such as, lending, investment or deposit acceptance as their principal business, without seeking registration, the Reserve Bank can impose penalty or fine on them or can even prosecute them in a court of law