The last few years have seen an unprecedented rise in digital payment transactions via Payment Aggregators (“PA”), Payment Gateways (“PG”), and Unified Payments Interface (“UPI”), via third-party application providers (TPAPs), with PAs undergoing licensing by the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”), under the March 17, 2020, RBI PA/PG Guidelines. Retail payments historically would flow via NEFT/ RTGS/ IMPS, etc. However, UPI has now become the preferred payment mode for online payments, constituting a significant volume of small ticket retail payments in India, which is mostly via PAs. The payment architecture, which was earlier ‘card network’ driven via entities licensed under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (as a ‘payment system operator’), is increasingly moving towards PA/PGs, including for digital asset exchanges, online shopping, check-out financing and digital lending (where significant changes have been implemented by the RBI recently, including via the September 2022 Digital Lending Guidelines).

Continue Reading FIG Paper (No. 18 – Series 1)- Technology/ Financial Services – Recent Law Enforcement Trends

Insurance Laws

Introduction

The Government of India, through the Department of Financial Services (Ministry of Finance) (“DFS”), is proposing extensive amendments to the Insurance Act, 1938 (the “Act”), with a view to enhance insurance penetration, improve efficiency, and enable product innovation and diversification[1]. The DFS published an office memorandum dated November 29, 2022 (“DFS Memorandum”), setting out the proposed amendments to the Act and commencing a process of public consultation on the proposed amendments until December 15, 2022. The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (the “Amendment Bill”), is seen to be catering to the long-standing demands of the industry and seeks to improve some of the fundamental tenets of the Act.

Continue Reading The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 – Charting a new course

Ship Leasing in IFSC

India has a vast coastline and easy access to shipping routes, yet India contributes only 1% in global trade.[1] Many major shipowners and operators have chosen key international maritime centres such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai as their base for operations.

To create a stimulating ecosystem that can help Indian entities compete with global marine hubs by accelerating and boosting their presence internationally, IFSCA has constituted a Committee on Development of Avenues for Ship Acquisition, Financing and Leasing Activities (“SAFAL Committee”) to obtain a complete overview and assessment of the existing legal and regulatory regime in IFSC in India for ship acquisition, financing and leasing.

Continue Reading Ship Leasing in IFSC – A New Regime

FIG Paper

Pursuant to the Report of the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) Working Group on Digital Lending, issued on November 18, 2021, and the RBI Press Release on ‘Recommendations of the Working Group on Digital Lending – Implementation’, dated August 10, 2022 (“August Press Release”), the RBI released the Guidelines on Digital Lending on September 2, 2022 (“Guidelines”). Our Alert examines the key changes introduced and industry implications.

Continue Reading FIG Paper (No. 17 – Series 2) – New Digital Lending Guidelines – Industry Implications

Evolving Insurance Landscape in IFSC

The Gujarat International Financial Tec-City (“GIFT City”) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, is India’s first operational greenfield smart city, housing a domestic tariff zone and an International Financial Services Centre (“IFSC”) in a Multi-service Special Economic Zone (“SEZ”). As part of developing India’s very own and first IFSC, both Indian and foreign entities are permitted to establish and operate IFSC Insurance Offices (“IIO”) from GIFT City, upon obtaining the requisite approvals. The IIOs have the advantage or the ability to transact in freely convertible foreign currencies in offshore markets, while being situated within the territorial borders of India. From 2015 to early 2020, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (“IRDAI”) issued guidelines for IIOs (“IRDAI IIO Guidelines”). Thereafter, pursuant to the International Financial Services Centres Authority Act, 2019, the International Financial Services Centres Authority (“IFSCA”) was empowered on October 1, 2020 as the unified regulator with wide powers to develop and regulate financial products, financial services, and financial institutions in IFSCs, including IIOs.

Continue Reading Evolving Insurance Landscape in IFSC

Fund Management Regulations 2022

I. Introduction

A robust asset management industry along with a well-developed regulatory ecosystem is pivotal to the growth of capital markets, which are in turn critical to a developing economy such as India. The Government of India is taking considerable efforts for ‘onshoring the offshore’ financial services activities to enable India to compete with some of the more established jurisdictions in the world such as Singapore, Mauritius and Hong Kong.

Continue Reading IFSCA (Fund Management) Regulations, 2022: Inching closer to make India a Global Hub for Asset Management

GIFT City

Introduction

The onset of Global In-house Centres (“GICs”) in India was driven by global financial services companies seeking to drive costs down and access India’s large talent pool across various locations. These factors together made it a compelling case for GICs to invest in India to setup large centres which performed a variety of functions across technology, risk, AML, operations, research, credit analysis, etc., for a wide variety of businesses, from retail banking, wholesale banking to investment banking, located in various foreign countries. This model has been visibly successful in driving the upskilling of a large talent pool in India and enabling significant cost advantages to the financial services companies that have implemented this model.

Continue Reading GICs in IFSC, GIFT City: A Combination to Unlock Value

Fintech Hubs in IFSC

The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) had notified its Fintech Incentive Scheme on February 2, 2022 (Scheme), setting up a framework to provide six grants to eligible applicants. The six grants, thematically, are for ESG financing (Green FinTech Grant), meant to provide early-stage capital for scaling up (FinTech Start-up Grant, Proof-of-Concept Grant, Sandbox Grant, Listing Support Grant), and aimed at supporting third-party incubation (Accelerator Grant), with the common thread among all being an intent to facilitate market access.

Continue Reading Policy support for fintech hubs in IFSCs

SEBI amends FPI Regulations to permit registration of AIFs in IFSC with resident sponsors managers as FPIs

Previously, RBI had permitted Indian entities to make mandatory sponsor commitment to AIFs in IFSC under the ‘automatic route’

Introduction

Alternative Investment Funds (“AIFs”) set up in an International Financial Services Centre (“IFSC”) are required to register themselves as Foreign Portfolio Investors (“FPIs”), for being able to invest inter alia in securities listed on Indian stock exchanges or in specific listed or unlisted corporate debt securities of Indian companies. Since entities set up in IFSCs are equivalent to ‘non-residents’ for the purposes of Indian foreign exchange regulations, restrictions placed by Securities Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) and the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) on participation of Indian residents in FPIs are, by default, applicable to AIFs in IFSC. Considering that AIFs may be set up by managers/ sponsors who are resident Indian entities and that the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012 (“AIF Regulations”), require managers/ sponsors of AIFs to make mandatory sponsor commitment[1] to the AIF, it is imperative that the restrictions on residents investing in FPIs do not conflict with the mandatory sponsor commitment requirements under AIF Regulations, as applicable to AIFs in IFSC.

Continue Reading SEBI amends FPI Regulations to permit registration of AIFs in IFSC with resident sponsors/ managers as FPIs

Funds in GIFT City - FAQs & Structuring Insights Blog

 A. Introduction

Gujarat International Fin-Tec City (“GIFT City”) is being developed as a global financial and IT Services hub on the lines of globally benchmarked financial centres. It includes a Special Economic Zone having the status of an International Finance Services Centre (“IFSC”). The IFSC is set up to undertake financial services transactions that are currently carried out outside India by overseas financial institutions and overseas branches/ subsidiaries of Indian financial institutions. 
Continue Reading Funds in GIFT City – FAQs & Structuring Insights