New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is all set to present her third Union Budget on February 1, 2022. This year, the Budget is likely is to focus on the government making strides through several initiatives, including the recently set up Fintech Department and the introduction of the Payment Investment Development Fund (PIDF) to incentivize fintech in India.
Also, NBFCs (Non-banking financial companies) and financial technology (fintech) are expecting to see more opportunities from the Centre to expand the market scope and scale and impact long-term changes in the financial industry.
Leading fintech players and startups have shared their thoughts on what are they expecting from the Budget this year.
Here are the expectations:
Sharan Nair, Chief Business Officer, CoinSwitch Kuber: “Various macroeconomic developments in India and the world over the last year have led to a rise in crypto adoption in India. Today, leading crypto exchanges follow strict self-regulatory practices to ensure customer protection. We hope the upcoming Union Budget will bring in regulatory clarity and help standardize best practices, address misconceptions around this emerging asset class. We believe a regularised environment will encourage more Indians to start their crypto investing journey, promoting financial inclusion in line with the government’s vision.”
Ketan Patel, CEO, Mswipe: “The SME (small and medium enterprises) sector is the backbone of the Indian economy. In the upcoming Budget, we expect the government to make announcements that will empower small businesses thereby reviving the economy from the impact of the pandemic. In November 2021, the government announced the Special Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme for the MSMEs (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises) in the services sector. This should be extended to SMEs whose turnover is less than Rs 5 crore as it will help them procure service equipment through institutional credit for the advancement of their technology. The government should also look at tax breaks for companies providing technology support to MSMEs. At a time when we are expecting the third wave of Covid to hit economic activity and businesses are facing difficult times, the government must take measures to meet the SME lending requirements. Subsidizing the cost of funds to NBFCs that focus on lending to small merchants for loans below Rs 20 lakh is a way to ensure easy access to credit. Besides, we expect the Finance Minister to increase credit guarantee for lending while also providing relief in terms of tax sops or subsidizing manpower costs for digital players to promote digital payments in tier 3 to 6 towns. Lastly, this Budget should further look at propelling the country towards a digital future.”
Gurjodhpal Singh, CEO Tide(IN): “This is the third year of the pandemic and MSMEs have been struggling all through since early 2020, several small businesses had to downsize or shut shop as they were challenged by severe liquidity crunch and dipping demand. Being central to the economy, MSMEs need assistance to be back on track and the government can provide that much-needed support through a stronger policy thrust. Unavailability of working capital, cost of compliance and taxation are potential challenges that need to be addressed. We are looking forward to a budget that will further push for digitization. Significant spending and allowances for infrastructure, especially digital banking infrastructure will also be an important ingredient for the success of both, the budget and MSMEs. These steps can boost financial inclusion to a great extent. Lastly, steps with a focus on new businesses and enabling entrepreneurship are key to provide the much-needed impetus for the sector.”
Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby: “The digital payments space has proved its mettle as a stable growth avenue during the pandemic. A positive impact was seen on digital payments due to benign taxation for self-service digital customers. To ensure the same benefits reach the less-savvy citizens, our government could waive GST and TDS for financial inclusion services at Business Correspondent (BC) outlets across India. A GST and TDS waiver will help reduce the cost of offering seamless financial services and help high-end tech reach the technology-oblivious segment. We stand with the government’s intent of taking digitization to the last mile and passing the GST waiver benefit to end-users as this will push for greater financial inclusion and a digital economy in the country. Moreover, low-income citizens are mostly catered to by low-earning retailers who barely cross the value of taxable income, and hence, do not file IT returns to claim a refund of TDS. Thus, TDS is only a cost to them and not a refundable deduction because they do not know how to take a refund by filing returns. We sincerely hope that TDS for income below Rs 50,000 a year can be waived off.”
Bhavin Patel, Co-founder & CEO, LenDenClub: “The economy is projected to gradually return to its previous trajectory, with fiscal priorities in the upcoming budget invigorating it. A regulatory body to oversee payment recovery is the need of the hour. An enhanced procedural aid to the legal recovery of repayments from digital borrowers to further protect the rights of those who lend money. Such a specialized government vehicle to oversee fintech could not only help startups run more effectively, following compliance requirements, but it would eliminate possible fraudsters. Returns from investments in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending could be exempted from tax under Section 80C of Income Tax law, or a different provision could be carved out to reduce tax rates such as tax exemption for gains below Rs 20,000. This will encourage people across geographies to invest in P2P lending, making funds accessible on multiple platforms. P2P lending plays a significant role in empowering small businesses in India. Tax benefits in P2P lending will magnify the growth of businesses when capital from P2P platforms is diverted to the sector.”
Pratik Gauri, Co-founder & CEO, 5ire: “Crypto technology and blockchain are long-term phenomena that are not going away. And as the government regulations focus on protecting its constituency from the bad it does, it should also look towards utilizing its power of good for better governance and accountability. India has been a significant player in developing solutions for the rest of the world with modern technology; it is high time we become a model of utilizing it ourselves. The Union budget should include more resources to make our cities into more efficient, better governed, smart cities. Lastly, the Union Budget 2022 can be a starting point for adopting the UN 2030 Sustainability goals not only in words but in spirit to address a spectrum of work areas, chief among them environmental sustainability, or the intentional and careful use of natural capital such as water, air, solar, mineral resources, timber, and land.”
Lalit Mehta, Co-founder & CEO, Decimal Technologies: “Fintech players have already shown willingness to work with the government to curb the menace of the illegal digital lending apps. Budget 2022 should introduce regulations that will help in greater credit access to MSMEs and curbing illegal activities while building trust in the digital lending process for the last mile. In line with the government’s goal of creating a digital economy, introducing credit schemes will incentivise the sector and help in providing timely credit to MSMEs that have struggled due to the lack of credit accessibility through traditional means of lending which has directly affected their business opportunity.”
Ashraf Rizvi, Founder & CEO, Gilded: “Gold has always been an important part of savings/ investment/ wealth portfolios not only in India but also across the world. In India, however, investment in gold is as much a cultural phenomenon as it is a financial one. This cultural tradition has adapted to the times with the introduction of digital gold. This new, convenient, and safer way to access physical gold has seen increased investments from new-age first-time investors. Millennial and Gen Z age categories undoubtedly take to this storage-proof, quality-assured, easy-to-transact new-age asset. Multiple wealth-tech applications have come to the fore, highlighting the growing need for a progressive regulatory framework for this asset class. Currently, capital gains on profits from the sale of gold can be as high as 20 per cent compared to profits on shares taxed at 10 per cent. An alignment among the tax regimes for investments would give investors greater flexibility in choosing the assets that best fit their needs as a store of value and foundation for wealth creation.”
Dilip Modi, Founder, Spice Money: “The fintech industry has fared really well in the last two years with the pandemic playing a key role in the digital adoption of financial services across the country. With the government making strides through several initiatives including the recently set up Fintech Department and the introduction of Payment Investment Development Fund (PIDF), the sector is expecting to see more opportunities and initiatives being taken forward by the government that will help in the expansion of the market, influence customer behaviour, and impact long term changes in the financial industry.”
Gaurav Dahake, Founder & CEO, Bitbns: “From the upcoming Union Budget, we expect clarity in terms of how crypto transactions will get regulated. There have been many discussions going around in the crypto space; however, no concrete output so far. As an exchange, we have been working on this along with the finance ministry, creating favourable regulations. We have shared deeper insights and statistics that showcase the size of the industry, the scale, and the growth rate it offers. How critical it is to various vital pillars of the economy, including employment creation and how people have been interacting with different crypto products that would ultimately help grow the Indian economy.”
Anurag Sinha, Co-Founder & CEO, FPL Technologies: “The Fintech space has not only accelerated the ‘Digital India’ initiative by years but introduced an array of new-age platforms powered by super apps offering multiple services through few swipes on a mobile – significantly influencing digital adoption across the spectrum including payments and credit. While the pandemic triggered a steep rise in demand for consumer credit, it also highlighted the lack of credit penetration in the country. However, given the rise of smartphone usage, shift to digital avenues and the increasing number of digitally-savvy consumers, licensed digital banks can effectively enhance reach and bridge this gap. A digital bank license regime will therefore enable fintech platforms to leverage their tech-stack optimally to create credit products and user experience which will redefine the investment and consumption landscape in the country.”