NSDL e-Gov’s services dwarf those of depository’

Sat, 05 May 2018 23:00:00 GMT

Affiliate of India’s largest depository provides various online services, including enabling student loans

When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced in his 2015 Budget speech that the government will create a single-window electronic platform for providing education loans under the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram, one company in Mumbai knew it was best placed to execute the government’s ambitious programme.

“The size of our e-governance services is five times that of the depository and every three to six months a new project is coming,” said Gagan Rai, MD & CEO, NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Ltd., a company that works closely with various government agencies on e-governance projects.

The company is promoted by the National Stock Exchange (NSE), Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) and Unit Trust of India (UTI), while shareholders include banks like State Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC and Citicorp Finance India among others.

“E-governance actually means providing services to the citizens in an electronic, transparent and more efficient manner. So, it can be PAN (permanent account number), Aadhaar or even NPS (national pension scheme). Government started talking about digital economy in 2014. We have been talking about it since 2007,” said Mr. Rai, who has been with the company since its inception. NSDL e-Governance has revolutionised the whole process of getting an education loan in the country. After the announcement by the Finance Minister in 2015, NSDL e-Governance developed the education loan portal Vidyalakshmi, which currently has 34 banks and 86 loan schemes listed on it.

“All education loans that are applied to commercial banks are through this portal,” Mr. Rai, said adding that till date approximately four lakh loans had been disbursed. With an average loan size of Rs. 3 lakh, the quantum of disbursement is an impressive Rs. 12,000 crore.

The portal has been a big boon to students who now do not have to run from one bank to another for a loan to fund their education. Students only need to register on the portal and fill up a single form — Common Education Loan Application Form (CELAF) — to apply to multiple banks.

The students can also view the eligibility criteria listed by various banks and get notified once their loan application is approved by a particular bank. While the banks ask for certain documents online, the final process has to be done offline as the applicants need to visit the bank and sign the requisite documents for disbursal.

Interestingly, after tasting success with Vidyalakshmi, NSDL e-Governance moved a step further to unveil a portal to plug another vital gap in the education sector — scholarships. The company started Vidyasaarathi a few months ago.

The portal already boasts of about 28,000 registered students and nine companies, including notable ones like Tata Housing, ACC, Care Ratings, SNL Bearings and Education Consultants of India among others.

Just as the education loan portal, this one helps in connecting students with the companies that are free to list their eligibility criteria as well. For instance, a company may choose only to sponsor the education of a girl student, while another one may only want to sponsor those that have qualified for premier institutes like the IIMs or IITs.

The best part for students is that these platforms offer services for free and save them from the hassles of running around for a loan or a scholarship.

Will preparation

In line with its history of providing services with a direct connect with individuals, NSDL e-Governance recently started offering online services for writing a will. The company has tied up with Warmond Trustees and Executors Pvt. Ltd., a company promoted by Mumbai-based law firm SNG & Partners.

An individual can get his or her will done through the portal www.ezeewill.com, which has a panel of legal experts to study the data submitted by the person and draft the will. The cost for getting a will prepared ranges from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 60,000, depending on the kind of services availed. While the most basic service is getting an online will done, one can even call legal experts for a house visit for guidance.

Strong track record

The company was established in 1996, when it started out as the country’s first depository under the leadership of C.B. Bhave, who later became the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). In 2013, the company was demerged into two entities — National Securities Depository Limited and NSDL e-Governance.

While NSDL handles the depository activities, NSDL e-Governance manages a host of corporate and retail services.

Although the education loan portal was started only in 2015, the company’s tryst with offering technology-based government services started 14 years ago in 2004 when it issued the first PAN card.

NSDL e-Governance is also at the forefront for issuing Aadhaar cards and is the largest non-state registrar for the unique identity number. Till date, it has processed more than 900 million Aadhaar cards.

It also enjoys the largest share — almost a monopoly — in maintaining the central record keeping of the accounts of the National Pension Scheme (NPS), which was unveiled for government employees in 2004 and made available for all in 2009. At last count, the company was maintaining the data for more than 20 million NPS accounts.