The Inner Workings of a Gold Loan

“Gold Loans- The Old Concept in a New Package” Introduction: It has been observed recently that Indians own more gold than the citizens of any other country. They use the glittering metal as ornaments to flaunt family wealth, as a source of retirement savings and as insurance against calamities. Gold and domestic savings: In rural areas in India, due to the lack of access to banks the poor continue to invest their savings mainly in gold. Also, there are strong cultural factors at work in India which make gold not only a desirable but also a necessary asset to hold.

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But lately, gold has become something else: collateral, and the basis of one of the country’s fastest growing businesses, gold loans. It is therefore an apt moment to acquaint the reader with an insider’s perspective on why gold loans matter and why they hold so much promise for our country’s future. The purpose of this paper is to present a consolidated review of the various facets of the gold loans spreading with speed in India to the readers. Gold Loan: Gold loan is a secured loan issued by lenders against gold as the undersigned asset.

Gold loan gives an opportunity for people to liquefy the value of their jewelry items and use it for financing purposes. Rise in gold prices have increased the disbursal of Gold Loans in the middle and upper middle class. With changing times working women are becoming financially independent and taking active part in decision making process. They are working in unison with their husbands to ensure a bright and secured future for their family. As the couples are well employed, they seek to return the principal even within a month of receiving their salary.

They are now using such loans to finance their children’s education, (particularly for meeting donation demands), which a bank will not entertain, car purchases, holiday trips or even to put up margin money for a home buy. The loan process begins once the gold is deposited with the lenders. After a ‘purity’ check is done, lenders may offer loans for as high as 80% of the gold’s worth. While the gold market has only shown an ascent, lenders still consider the risk that gold carries and thus are reluctant to issue more than 80% of the value. Gold loans today are issued both by banks and non-banking companies.

Objectives of the Study: The main objective of this study is to present a comprehensive picture of gold loans currently prevailing in India. Lending against gold being one of the oldest businesses of India is being served in an altogether different style which is organized and regulated. The business which was until lately dominated by unorganized money lenders has attracted all from organized Non-banking finance companies to banks in the public and private sector. The study aims at- * To examine the present scenario of gold loan industry in India whether organized or unorganized. To discover the reasons; appearing as advantages; for the growing popularity of such a business. * To compare gold loans with the personal loans. * To chalk out some precautions to be adhered to while availing gold loans. Methodology: Sources of data: The data for the study has been collected from- a) Internet b) Journals c) Articles of well known Newspapers d) Published reports of IMACS Literature Review: Gold Demand in India India is one of the largest markets of gold accounting for nearly 10% of total world stock with 18,000 tonnes of gold [IMaCS Industry Report (2010 Update)] ?

Value of gold stock in India has grown at 22% CAGR from FY02 to FY10 ? Despite increase in gold prices from Rs. 15,026 to Rs. 51,150 per ounce between 2002 and 2009, the demand for gold remained relatively stable at around 700 tonnes, which clearly demonstrates the price in-elasticity ? Rural India is estimated to hold ~65% of the gold stock which depicts the concentration. ?Southern India is the largest market accounting for 40% of India’s gold demand, followed by West at ~25%, North at 20-25% and East at 10-15% of annual Gold demand [Mannapuram Finance in Jan 2011]

Gold Finance Industry in India India being one of the largest markets for gold, several gold based financial products have been made available to retail consumers here from time to time with a view to bring the gold holdings to the core financial market. Lending against gold has been one of the most popular instruments based on gold, and it works well with the Indian rural population, which typically views gold as an important savings instrument that is liquid and can be converted into cash instantly to meet their urgent cash requirements.

Moreover, since traditional times gold owners in southern India have been more open than elsewhere in the country to accept and exercise the option of pledging gold to borrow money (Source: IMaCS Industry Report 2009). In an effort to tap the market for gold related investment and services, companies in the financial sector have launched several products such as gold coins and bars; exchange traded gold funds and lending against gold.

Gold Loans have emerged as key gold based financial products, and in the year ended March 31, 2010, the organized Gold Loans market in India was estimated at between `350 billion and ` 400 billion with a CAGR of approximately 40% during fiscal 2002 to fiscal 2010. Notwithstanding the above, the organized Gold Loans portfolio accounted for merely 1. 2% of the value of total gold stock in India. Despite the increase the experts still feel that the gold loans market is significantly under-penetrated and is expected to continue growing at the rate of 35-40% in the future. (Source: IMaCS Industry Report (2010 Update).

The organized lenders; particularly NBFCs have become more aggressive in the gold loans market, charging interest rates that vary from 18% to 24%. Organized gold loans portfolio translates into a marginal 0. 12% of the value of total gold stock in India. A significant part of the gold loans may shift from the un-organized lenders to the organized lenders. South India continues to account for 85-90% of the gold loans market in India. However other areas also provide scope for expansion. There are no publicly available aggregate data about gold loans, but finance companies that specialize in them are growing fast.

Manappuram, a pioneer in the business, made $730 million in gold loans in the year 2008 — up from $397 million a year earlier. Muthoot Finance, a privately held firm, said its lending was growing at 60 percent a year ["The New York Times” (Sept 28, 2009)]. By contrast, total outstanding bank loans to the private sector have increased 16 percent last year, year over year, and have been essentially flat so far this year. Though the financial system in India is becoming more inclusive, it still has not reached many people. More Indians, for instance, own gold than own stocks or mutual funds.

It has been found that only around 5% of the Indian educated class does understand about working and investing in stock markets. The total value of gold in private hands is roughly 60 percent of deposits in banks, according to data from the World Gold Council and India’s central bank. A 2006 government survey found that less than 41 percent of Indian households had bank or post office savings accounts. By contrast, 92 percent of American households had bank accounts. The growth in size of the gold loan market has been manifold and is clearly visible as in FY 2002 the market for gold loans stood at a meager figure of less than Rs. 0 bn which rose a little above Rs. 100 bn in 5 years by FY 2007. The growth was almost double in next 2 years by FY 2009 & the gold loan market has almost multiplied three fold since FY 2007 till FY 2010 to near about Rs. 400 bn. Source: IMaCS Industry Report (2010 Update) Features of a Gold Loan Gold loans come with higher interest rates and have a processing fee as well. There are instances where the interest rates go as high as 27% per annum. However, the private lending businesses, especially new entrants, offer lower rates and gold loans in strategic ways such as without levying any processing fess.

It is fortunate that most lenders do not charge any evaluation fee even when the loan amount is based on the quality of gold. They prefer to play it safe by offering a lesser amount of loan than the gold’s actual value. Most loans span 3 months to 12 months and the borrowers have the choice of prepaying at any time. Non-banking companies let borrowers choose their terms as well. Typically, the tenure on a gold loan falls around one year to two year with some lenders even extending loan for three years. The documents required are residential proof and a recognised photo identity for example a PAN card, voter Identity card or driving license.

The banks may take an hour to a day to extend the gold loan. On the other hand, NBFCs like Muthoot Finance and Manappuram, going by their advertisements, extend the loan within minutes. The average rate of interest they charge falls around 11 % – 14 %. However, some NBFCs are charging a much higher interest rate of 20-24 %. Many banks impose reasonable restrictions against the loan money being used for stocks trading. In comparison, private lenders are slightly moderate in issuing any such restrictions. Why Gold Loans?

Some of the reasons discovered for the growing popularity of gold loans in the form of advantages to customers in India are: 1. Continuous Increase in Gold prices- Gold price is increasing on an average by @ 20% per annum over the last five years. With gold prices continually rising, people find it a wise decision to take a loan against the gold. Say for eg: one has a gold ring and does’nt wish to sell it but needs cash. One simply has to stop by any of the gold loan offices of a company or banks so that their gold can be valued and they can get cash.

The added advantages are that people no longer have to sell their gold and the company does not run credit checks also! 2. Interest rates of loans are lower than that of unsecured loans (Personal Loan) – Pawnbrokers and money lenders have long operated in India’s back alleys, making loans against jewelry to families in distress in rural as well as urban areas, at interest rates of 30 percent or more. But gold loans made by banks and finance companies are regulated & the rates charged are lower — 14 to 30 percent.

These policies have led to chances of further increase in their businesses. 3. Fast and easy option to obtain loan from NBFCs (Non-Banking Finance Companies) as well as Banks to meet short-term financial requirements- People do not have to wait till the long processing time finishes. The loan is approved in very short duration with least hassles and processing delays. Since it has collateral therefore risk is mitigated to a large extent. Drivers of Growth in Gold Loans Market in India A retail research report prepared by HDFC Securities found that the key usiness drivers of the gold loan market in India have been the following: a) Regulatory incentives to lenders: The prescribed risk weight on gold loans has been approximately 50% for commercial banks, further reducing the associated capital costs thus proving a beneficial deal for those engaged in its provision. b) Policy focus: The Government of India views gold loans as an effective means to meet the potential micro- finance demand in India. In fiscal 2007, the Government of the state of Tamil Nadu set a jewelry loans target of ` 60 billion (75% of the total loan disbursement target) for co-operatives in Tamil Nadu. ) Cash crunch arising out of global slowdown- Gold loan firms have also benefited from the financial crisis. In the last year and a half, many lenders have stopped making unsecured personal loans because of the rising default cases in India. d) Increasing interest of the lenders in the segment: Considering the recent rise in default rates (which was expected to vary from 8-10% in fiscal 2009) in personal loans, banks have started focusing on the gold loans segment because it offers attractive returns (although lower than personal loans) with very low levels of defaults.

Several private sector banks have started participating in the segment by getting into bilateral sale agreements with NBFCs that specialize in gold loan. A few private sector banks like HDFC Bank have already initiated efforts to tap into such segments. e) High levels of indebtedness: The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) 2003 survey on situational assessment of farmers’ indebtedness in the country has estimated that 60. 4% of rural households in India were farmer households, out of which 48. 6% were indebted.

The incidence of indebtedness was highest in the state of Andhra Pradesh (82%) followed by Tamil Nadu (74. 5%), Punjab (65. 4%), Kerala (64. 4%), Karnataka (61. 6%) and Maharashtra (54. 8 %). This shows the scope of a good business exists not only in down south but north India as the rural households hold gold and require easy terms of repayment which is readily available with NBFCs. f) Changing customer attitudes and preferences: Indian customers have demonstrated a change in their traditionally debt-averse psychology, promoting the creation of assets through growth in financial liabilities.

Some of the other critical factors that can augment the growth of a gold loan company are a strong distribution network, faster turn around time, operational risk management through better technology, systems and processes, unique and customized product offering, access to low cost of funds and brand recognition due to heavy expenditure on advertisements. Source:indiainfoline. com How does a loan on gold work? The process of borrowing on gold as commonly specified by many of the gold loan companies seems very easy.

People simply bring them the gold and receive cash within a matter of minutes. All gold loans are usually 90 days long and can be paid off at the end of the term or extended for another 90 days. If people can’t pay back the gold loan in full at its maturity, they may surrender the gold as full payment. What type of gold can people borrow on? One can borrow loan against gold coins, gold rings, gold watches (working or not), broken jewelry, estate jewelry, collectible gold, gold figurines, gold charms. Basically, one can loan on any type of gold without regard for condition.

Current Status of Gold Loan Companies in India- Non-Banking Finance Companies A non-banking finance company (“NBFC”) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 and is engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stock/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other securities of like marketable nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, chit business but does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, sale/purchase/construction of immovable roperty. A nonbanking institution which is a company and which has its principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement or any other manner, or lending in any manner is also a non-banking financial company (Residuary non-banking company). It is mandatory that every NBFC should be registered with RBI to commence or carry on any business of non-banking financial institution as defined in clause (a) of Section 45 I of the RBI Act, 1934. All NBFCs are not entitled to accept public deposits.

Only those NBFCs holding a valid Certificate of Registration with authorization to accept public deposits can accept/hold public deposits. NBFCs authorized to accept/hold public deposits besides having minimum stipulated net owned fund should also comply with the directions such as investing part of the funds in liquid assets, maintain reserves, rating etc. issued by the Bank. As of June 2009 there were 12,740 NBFCs in India, mostly in the private sector (RBI Press Release, October, 2009).

Role of NBFC’s in the competitive landscape of the gold finance industry in India The further stated that a typical Gold Loan customer expects high loan-to-value ratios, easy access, low levels of documentation and formalities, quick approval and disbursal of loans, lockers to ensure safety of their pledged gold and a team of expert valuers. Specialized NBFCs have created a niche in the gold loans capabilities by meeting these requirements of the typical gold loan customers, who require gold loans primarily to meet their urgent cash requirements.

NBFCs specializing in gold loans continue to perform strongly in the gold loans market and the overall statistics demonstrate that the relative share of traditional gold finance NBFCs in the market has not changed significantly over the last three years. In fiscal 2010, the Gold Loans market was largely concentrated between two categories of lenders: south India based SCBs (Scheduled Commercial Banks) and NBFCs specializing in gold loans which held approximately 58% and 32%, respectively, of the total market.

The rest of the Gold Loans portfolio was held by several small co-operative banks. [R[Retail research report by HDFC Securities]BFCs are the Fastest Growing Lenders in the Organized Gold Loan Market| Targeting Non-bankable customers| High Comfort Level: Transparency ; Trust| Minimal documentation and formalities| Quick approvals and disbursals| Flexibility in Terms of Loans| Easy Access due to Greater Penetration| Presence of expert valuers| Robust control systems| Ability to handle cash| Better Operating Cost Structures vis-a-vis Banks| Are gold loans better than personal loans?

Comparing personal loan and gold loan, Manappuram Finance Managing Director I. Unnikrishnan said, “in times of emergency you need a loan almost immediately with minimum documentation, and without any evaluation of your loan repaying capacity and if you have gold it can be a better option compared to a personal loan where all these factors come into play. ” Personal loans and gold loans are born equal. They attract almost the same kind of interest. While a personal loan can quickly turn in to a non-performing asset for banks, gold loans are designed to benefit the banks. Asian Correspondent. com (31st May 2011)] For someone who is serious about clearing the loan in due time, a gold loan might prove to be a better choice. On comparing the procedures of the two, gold loans look like a neat and clean process. Personal loans, if one would observe work a little differently as they are not secured by any asset but by the loan takers future earning potential and credit history. There is an unspeakable necessity for submission of paperwork including pay-slips.

A few calls are also made to the loan taker’s nearest and dearest friends. And that’s where gold loans score. For personal loans, there is no partial payment option. Here one either pays in full or gets on with the monthly payments. Gold loan provides partial payment flexibility. If you have some money to pay, you can go ahead and pay it. The outstanding amount will come down and so will the interest. The catch is one will not get any gold back for the amount one has paid. He/she can only release their gold after the complete principal amount is cleared.

Gold loans’ only caveat or the obvious downfall for gold loans is that jewelry and ornaments will not be available when required. A friend’s wedding or a birthday party might just come when we don’t want them to. Keeping in view the above comparison without hesitation we can conclude that loans should be avoided at all times as all loans are born equal with a common objective- to lay interest on the person who takes the loan and make him or her work for them, at least for a while. But if it is really required, a gold loan could be a better choice.

Precautions before Availing Gold Loans Even though from the aforementioned discussion, gold loans may seem to be an easy option to borrow money there is a word of caution from the financial experts who advise that taking a gold loan for buying luxury items or for consumption purposes may not be a great idea. Being a secured loan, gold loans must be sought only after a careful assessment of one’s payment capabilities or else the gold might get forfeited. The lenders offer gold loans after much consideration and tend to ask about the purpose of the loan. Borrowers need to ensure that the loan they take against gold is not meant for pure consumption or speculative purposes. They need to exercise caution with their investments or else they may end up losing the gold. * Another thing is to ensure is that there are no missed payments otherwise the default penalties can take the gold loan amount to an unmanageable balance. This also has an inevitable impact: it may spoil one’s credit score. It is advised to take a gold loan in small sums and make sure that one has enough liquidity to repay the loan and get the gold back.

The gold pledged with the lender is usually auctioned 12 months after the due date of repayment has lapsed. NCDEX Chief Business Officer Vijay Kumar has a smart advice for borrowers: “if you have a good quality hallmarked gold and the value of the gold you want to borrow is 60 % or less you may negotiate for lower interest rate from the lender. ” * There are various parameters on which the tenure, interest rate and the level of negotiation would depend — like whether the gold is hallmarked or not, the tenure of the loan amount and what percentage of the value of the gold you would like to borrow. One should also not get carried away by the attractive interest rates on gold loans as there are half a dozen other charges for gold loans like the handling and processing fee of about 0. 25-0. 50 per cent, gold assessing charges of about one per cent and also custodial charges for safekeeping of your gold. [a[article in Financial Chronicle (June 23, 2011)] Like most other loans gold loans too come with pre-closure charges though a few NBFCs promise exemption of these charges. Thus one needs to answer some these questions before approaching a gold loan company: * Do you really need a gold loan? How much money can be raised through gold loans? * What are the interest rates on gold loans? * What are the other charges? * How is the repayment process? The author of ‘Retire Rich Invest Rs 40 A Day’ PV Subramanyam, suggests to try a public sector bank for taking gold loan as gold loan is a secured loan and banks are well regulated, are sound and carry lesser risk compared to a non-banking finance company. Since high emotional value is attached to the jewelry one pledges, it’s better to opt for a lender which is stable, well diversified and is in the gold loan business for a long period.

Conclusion: Outlook of the Gold Loans Market in India Based on the assessment of the emerging dynamics and competitive landscape, the gold loans market is expected to grow at between 35% and 40% over the next three years (Source: IMACs Industry Report, 2009). Moreover, as the market is currently under-penetrated, it is expected that the gold loans market will offer enough opportunities for portfolio expansion and retain attractive margins for all existing specialized NBFCs, banks and new entrants.

The branch expansion and marketing initiatives of various specialized NBFCs are anticipated to give a strong boost to the acceptability of gold loans and lead to further growth in the gold loans market. In addition, it is anticipated that the large public sector banks in southern India will continue to be amongst the leading lenders, but considering the various regulatory and operational processes, it would be challenging for the banks to match the flexible service regime of the specialized NBFCs.

New NBFC entrants in the market are currently in a cautious preparatory mode to enter the gold loans market but it will take some time for these NBFCs to emerge as formidable competitors to specialized existing NBFCs. This is because it will take time for these new NBFCs to build the requisite focus, infrastructure (valuers, lockers, etc,) and branch network. Specialized NBFCs are expected to continue to hold their share of the Gold Loans market with their ability to provide superior and niche servicing capabilities to their exiting and future customers. References: 1.

P V Subramanyam: ‘Retire Rich Invest Rs 40 A Day’ 2. The New York Times, newspaper article published on September 28, 2009 3. The Economic Times, newspaper article published on July 29, 2010 4. The Financial Chronicle, digital newspaper article published on June 23, 2011 5. IPO note on Muthoot Finance Ltd. ; prepared by HDFC Securities published on April 15,2011 6. Published presentation by Mannapuram Finance Ltd. For January 2011 7. IMACS Industry Report for 2009 ; 2010 8. www. deal4loans. com 9. www. asiancorrespondent. com 10. www. scottsdaleloancompany. com 11. www. goldprice. org

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