For those who wish to open a retirement savings account with the National Pension System but don’t know how to go about it, the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority is set to launch an online portal soon.
The portal, which is likely to be launched in a month’s time, would require the Aadhaar number of the applicant for enrollment. Once registered with the NPS, the subscriber would be able to make contributions online through the portal using net banking and electronic payment facilities.
“We are trying to facilitate the on-boarding of subscribers because the marketing has been one of the key issues. We are trying to have a portal through which subscribers can directly join the NPS without having to go through intermediaries,” said Hemant Contractor, chairman, PFRDA, adding that the portal would be open to all subscribers and not only those of a particular scheme.
Technical aspects of the portal are currently being worked out and it should be launched within a month, he said.
The move is also expected to give a big boost to the NPS for private citizens for which enrolments are currently done through nearly six dozen intermediaries or points of presence that include a number of state-run as well as private sector banks.
However, six years since its launch in May 2009, the scheme continues to face stiff competition from mutual funds and private pension plans. “That would help ease the process of bringing on board subscribers. We are not seeing much traction in the private sector NPS … A lot of them prefer mutual funds, etc as they have such facilities (such as an online portal). So at least to be on par with them on such things, we want to offer them this facility,” Contractor told The Indian Express.
According to data with the NPS Trust, the corporate sector and the unorganised sector NPS had just 4.82 lakh subscribers by April 30 this year, with cumulative assets under management worth Rs 6,447.78 crore.
Meanwhile, as part of its enrolment drive, the PFRDA is also considering a proposal to permit pension fund managers (PFMs) to sell the NPS. The proposal was part of the recommendations of the expert group led by former Sebi chairman GN Bajpai that submitted its report to the PFRDA last month.
“There is some thought on that but there are some differing views on the issue,” Contractor said, indicating concerns of mis-selling. However, he pointed out that with the PFRDA now having statutory powers, it can easily look into any such grievances.
“Mis-selling was an issue before the PFRDA was a statutory body as we didn’t have powers at that time. And if there was mis-selling, we didn’t have powers at the time to address that. But now with the PFRDA Act empowering us to take punitive measures against violators, we are in a much better position. The Bajpai committee has also suggested that PFMs should market the NPS, we are looking at that very closely,” he stressed.
There are seven pension fund managers for the NPS for private citizens and corporate sector. These include LIC Pension Funds, SBI Pension Funds, UTI Retirement Solutions, ICICI Prudential Pension Funds Management Company, Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund, Reliance Capital Pension Fund and HDFC Pension Fund Management Company.