India to Open High-Tech Financial Hub for Banks, Insurers

By Santanu Chakraborty | January 10, 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate an international exchange in Gujarat state’s new finance zone, seeking to grab some of India’s $48 billion in offshore banking activities from Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong.

The India International Exchange, at the bottom of a 16-story building that dominates the finance zone, will get Modi’s blessing on Monday and start trading single stock and equity index futures on Jan. 16. It will add gold, silver, copper, oil and the rupee “soon,” Bombay Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer Ashishkumar Chauhan said in an interview. Ninety-six brokerage firms have registered in the zone, envisaged by Modi when he was chief minister of the state.

“The exchange will reclaim some lost market share to equity-futures in Singapore, currency derivatives in Dubai and structured products in Hong Kong,” said Chauhan. “It is a dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is his baby as he has visualized various aspect of the project.”

The brochure of Gift city, or Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, says it’s targeting the $48 billion in banking activities done by Indian companies and individuals in offshore centers in 2015, estimated to rise to $120 billion by 2025. Modi envisaged a zone that offers products to satisfy hedging and investment demand in an economy growing at more than 7 percent annually, without upsetting the central bank’s control on a depreciating rupee. The zone has created about 5,000 jobs so far and has a long way to go to meet its eventual target of 500,000.

BSE is planning to invest 5 billion rupees ($73 million) for trading and clearing at the new exchange in three to four years, said Chauhan. He said Indian companies can raise up to $1 trillion in 10 years via Gift city.

Finance firms setting up units in Gift City will pay a reduced tax valid for special economic zones and can more easily offer foreign-currency loans to Indian companies abroad, overseas nationals and foreign companies. China is establishing a similar zone called Qianhai in Shenzhen, where pilot policies can be tested before being rolled out nationally.

Commercial banks operating in the area will be allowed to offer structured products with prior approval from their board of directors, according to Reserve Bank of India rules issued Nov. 10. BSE said last month it would like to offer single-stock futures on the top 10 Indian companies and almost round-the-clock trading.

Just Toddlers

Ajay Pandey, CEO of Gift City, said in an interview last month that three to four global banks are seeking approval from their home regulators to set up in the zone, in addition to the seven local banks and two insurers that had already started operations. He said the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. plans to open a bourse, and talks for cooperation with international exchanges are underway. Seven banks have already achieved $1 billion in financial transactions there, he said.

“A lot of business from India is happening in Dubai or Singapore, so this is a sincere attempt to make sure that there is an enabling framework for these activities to be done out of India,” he said at the time. “Singapore is Singapore. We are just toddlers. We are learning. We are coming up.”

[Editor’s note: Information about Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, or Gift City, can be found on the Gift City website.]

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.