Buoyant stock market takes India’s unique investor base past 50 million

The country’s investor count has crossed 50 million, the country’s top bourse National Stock Exchange (NSE) said on Monday. The unique investor count is 30 per cent less than the total dematerialised (demat) accounts in the country. This is because several investors have multiple demat and trading accounts with more than one broker. At the end of September, the total demat accounts with CDSL and NSDL—the country’s main depositories—stood at 70.2 million.

The number of demat accounts have surged by 40 per cent, or 20.4 million this year—many of whom are first-time investors. The sharp jump in investor account has been underpinned by buoyancy in the stock market, ease of account opening and shift to remote working following the covid-19 pandemic. The perks offered by brokerages, such as fee waivers and gift vouchers, to attract new clients also has led to investors with multiple accounts.

“The unique registered investors on the NSE crossed 50 million count on October 25. While the journey from 30 million registered investors to 40 million took about 15 months, the next 10 million investor registrations took less than seven months. Total number of client codes registered with the exchange stands at 88.6 million (clients could register with more than one trading member),” NSE said in a press release.

While an investor can have more than one demat or trading account with different depository participants and trading members, they are linked to a single permanent account number (PAN).

Market players said the number of unique investors dealing purely in equities could be less than 50 million as NSE registered investors also deal in other products such as gold and bonds.

“The investors can diversify their portfolio on the exchange platform by investing in equity shares or via the exchange traded fund (ETF) or mutual fund route, government securities through non-competitive bidding platform, corporate bonds, real estate by way of investments in REITs & InvITs, gold through Gold ETFs or sovereign gold bonds,” said Vikram Limaye, MD & CEO, NSE.

Assuming a population of 1.4 billion, India’s equity market penetration is currently less than 4 per cent.

Limaye said that the industry is focused on taking the investor count past the 100 million mark over the next 3-4 years.

Smaller cities jump on to the equity bandwagon

NSE said northern states have accounted for 36 per cent of new investor registrations, followed by western India with 31 per cent. Meanwhile, southern and eastern states account for 20 per cent and 13 per cent of new investor registrations, respectively.

At the state level, Maharashtra accounts for the highest investors 17 per cent followed by Uttar Pradesh with 10 per cent and Gujarat with 7 per cent of new investor registrations. The top 10 states accounted for 71% of new investor registrations.

Interestingly, the growth in investor registrations has largely been driven from non-metro cities, indicating that the growing interest in the stocks isn’t just restricted to the metros.

As per NSE, cities beyond the top 50 have accounted for 57 per cent of new investor registrations, while the cities beyond the top 100 have contributed to 43 per cent.

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