Dematerialisation of Mutual Fund Units: How, Why and Why not?

In recent years, the financial landscape in India has witnessed a significant shift towards digitization, with various investment avenues adapting to technological advancements. One such adaptation is the dematerialisation of mutual fund investments, a process that involves converting physical securities into electronic form.

In this article, we will explore the intricacies of dematerialisation, its benefits, potential drawbacks, and why some investors might be hesitant to embrace this transformation.

Understanding Dematerialisation

Dematerialisation, often referred to as “Demat,” is the process of converting physical securities, such as share certificates or mutual fund unit statements, into electronic form. The process involves opening a Demat account with a registered Depository Participant (DP) to hold and manage these electronic securities. Dematerialisation of mutual funds allows investors to hold units in electronic form rather than dealing with physical documents.

How to Dematerialise Mutual Funds

  • Opening a Demat Account

To embark on the dematerialisation journey, investors need to open a Demat account with a DP registered with a central depository like the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) or Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL). This account serves as the digital repository for holding and transacting in mutual fund units.

  • Dematerialisation Request

Once the Demat account is set up, investors can submit a dematerialisation request to their DP. This involves providing details of the they wish to dematerialise, including the scheme name, folio number, and quantity of units.

  • Conversion Process mutual fund investments

Upon receiving the dematerialisation request, the DP forwards the details to the Asset Management Company (AMC) managing the mutual fund scheme. The AMC then verifies the request and, upon approval, initiates the dematerialisation process with the depository.

  • Credit of Units

Upon successful dematerialisation, the investor’s Demat account is credited with electronic units, and a corresponding entry is made in the electronic register of the depository.

Advantages of Dematerialisation

  • Convenience and Accessibility

Dematerialisation offers investors the convenience of managing their mutual fund holdings electronically. This eliminates the need for physical paperwork and enables investors to access their portfolios at any time through online platforms.

  • Reduced Risk of Loss or Damage

Physical documents are susceptible to loss, theft, or damage. Dematerialisation eliminates these risks, ensuring the safety and security of investors’ holdings.

  • Faster and Efficient Transactions

Electronic transactions are processed more efficiently compared to their paper counterparts. Dematerialisation facilitates quicker and more seamless transactions, enabling investors to buy or sell mutual fund units with greater speed.

Disadvantages of Dematerialisation

  • Limited Awareness

One of the challenges hindering the widespread adoption of dematerialisation is the limited awareness among investors. Many are unfamiliar with the process and its benefits, leading to hesitancy in making the switch.

  • Preference for Physical Documents

Some investors still prefer physical documents for a sense of tangibility and familiarity. Overcoming this preference requires educating investors about the enhanced security and efficiency offered by dematerialisation.

  • Cost Considerations

While the cost of opening and maintaining a Demat account is relatively low, some investors may perceive it as an additional expense. Educating investors about the long-term benefits and potential cost savings could help address this concern.

Paving the Digital Future for Mutual Fund Investors in India

Dematerialisation of mutual fund investment in India represents a transformative step toward a more streamlined and efficient investment ecosystem. There are various demat account apps, like Zerodha, Upstox, and m.Stock by Mirae Asset, which allows investors to hold mutual fund units. While the process offers numerous benefits, addressing the concerns and hesitancies of investors is crucial for its widespread adoption. As the financial landscape continues to evolve, dematerialisation stands as a testament to the industry’s commitment to embracing technology for the benefit of investors.