As part of its move to streamline and modernise investor services, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has come out with a circular mandating digitisation to easily resolve service requests and complaints of holders of physical security certificates. The circular, dated June 8, 2023 applies to registrars and transfer agents (RTAs) and stock exchanges.
The objective is to simplify the submission and tracking of various documents required for service requests and complaints, benefiting investors and companies alike. The digitisation has to be completed by July 1, 2024.
The circular covers a wide range of requests and updates that investors may need to make, including updating their Permanent Account Number (PAN), nominee details etc. It also includes investor requests like obtaining duplicate security certificates, folio consolidation, transmission, and transposition. Additionally, services related to dematerialisation and rematerialisation through depository participants are also included.
RTAs are Sebi-registered entities that provide services related to share registry maintenance and share transfer activities on behalf of public companies.
The functions of RTAs include collecting applications from investors, maintaining records of applications and funds, assisting with allotment determinations, finalising lists of entitled individuals, and processing and dispatching relevant documents.
In the first phase, investors will gain access to an online portal, latest by January 1, 2024, where they can lodge service requests and complaints. They will be able to track the status of their requests and receive regular updates. This creates a comprehensive database for service requests and complaints, online acknowledgement, and intimation to investors. Investors can monitor the progress of their requests and complaints online.
RTAs servicing listed companies will be required to have a functional website that displays essential information mentioned in the circular.
Additionally, RTAs must establish a user-friendly online mechanism or portal for service requests and complaints, providing options for authentication and validation, including one-time passwords (OTPs) sent to mobile devices.
Upon uploading the required documents on the portal, investors will be provided with a unique reference number (URN) for their service requests and complaints. RTAs will also offer acknowledgements for physical document submissions, quoting the URN.
Online requests will be kept pending for 30 days to allow for the submission of physical documents.
If physical documents are not received within this period, the requests will be closed, and investors will need to submit fresh requests. Throughout the process, investors will receive regular updates via SMS and/or email, including alerts about the status of their requests. The system will also allow for clarifications and the submission of additional documents.
Phase II of the digitisation plan involves the creation of a common website operated by Qualified Registrars and Transfer Agents (QRTAs). This website, accessible from July 1, 2024, will redirect investors to the respective web-based portals of the relevant RTAs by searching for the name of the listed company. The common website will have the functionality to add companies and RTAs to its search list as required.