What is a Depository?

What is a Depository?

A depository is a financial institution that holds and facilitates the transfer of securities in electronic form, known as a demat account. Depository in stock market plays an important role by serving as a centralised custodian of dematerialised securities, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The depository meaning refers to an entity that allows investors to store their financial assets in a secure and convenient manner. This enables smooth buying, selling, and transferring of securities without the need for physical certificates. Understanding the concept of a depository is essential for anyone interested in participating in the stock market or investing in financial instruments. This article will cover all the aspects related to the depository, understand the role of depositories, their types, benefits and more.

What is a Depository in the Stock Market? 

Understanding what is depository in stock market is crucial for investors seeking to safeguard their securities and streamline the process of trading and settlement. A depository is a financial company that maintains financial securities in a dematerialised state. Here, transactions such as buying and selling shares happen without physically moving the assets. Special intermediaries called Depository Participants (DPs) enable investors to buy and sell securities through the depository. 

The depository keeps investors' securities like stocks and mutual funds in an electronic form instead of physical certificates. This reduces paperwork and prevents the risk of physical certificates getting lost or stolen. It also makes purchasing and selling securities much easier. Apart from holding securities electronically, depositories provide other services such as keeping records of mutual fund units owned by investors, settling trade transactions, and handling corporate actions like dividend payments and bonus share issues.

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Table of Content

  1. What is a Depository in the Stock Market? 
  2. Benefits of Depository System
  3. What are Depository Charges?
  4. Types of Depository Systems in India
  5. How Does the Depository System Work?
  6. Functions of Depository
  7. Role of Depository in Financial Markets

Benefits of Depository System

The advantages of depository system is that they help investors perform trading activities well. They provide a safe and efficient way to hold and transfer financial securities electronically. The key benefits make investing more convenient, cost-effective, and accessible compared to dealing with physical certificate documents. Let’s understand the benefits of depository system in detail.

  1. Convenience and Security

    A depository account (Demat) allows you to hold your stocks electronically instead of with physical share certificates. This can be very convenient for conducting transactions like buying and selling shares, and it is also more secure since there is no risk of losing or damaging physical certificates.
  2. 2. Time Saving

    With a Demat account, you can buy or sell shares much faster compared to paper share transactions. Transferring physical shares can take several weeks, but electronic transfers are nearly instant.
  3. Cost Effectiveness

    Maintaining a Demat account costs less than holding physical certificates, which require expenses like stamp duties and locker rental fees.
  4. Easy Access

    You can log into your Demat account anytime to view your portfolio holdings and transaction details through regular account statements.
  5. Collateral for Loans

    The securities you hold in your Demat account can be used as collateral when applying for a loan from a bank. This makes the loan approval process quicker compared to using physical shares.

What are Depository Charges?

When investing in the stock market through a depository system, you may need to pay certain fees known as depository charges. These depository charges apply under different circumstances. One common situation where you would face these charges is when you buy or sell securities using your Demat (dematerialised) account. In such cases, your Depository Participant (DP) will charge you a fee.  Before the charges reach you, the DPs themselves first have to pay fees directly to the depositories (NSDL or CDSL). The DPs then pass on these depository charges to you as their client.

Types of Depository Systems in India

Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL) and National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) are two different types of depository systems. Let’s understand more about these depository systems.

  1. CDSL, or the Central Depository Limited

    Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL) was established in 1997 and began operations in 1999. It is headquartered in Mumbai. CDSL is one of the two active depositories serving the Indian market. It provides depository services to investors through its network of Depository Participants (DPs) across the country.
  2. NSDL, or the National Securities Depository

    NSDL is the oldest depository in India, starting operations in 1996. It was set up as a joint venture between the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) and the National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE). NSDL's head office is also located in Mumbai, and like CDSL, it offers depository services to investors via its countrywide network of DPs.

How Does the Depository System Work?

To buy or sell shares in the Indian stock market, an investor first needs to open a Demat (dematerialised) account. After opening this account, they can trade shares online. In India, two prominent depositories come into the picture: NSDL (National Securities Depository Limited) and CDSL (Central Depository Services Limited). These institutions operate under the regulatory purview of SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India), ensuring adherence to established protocols and standards within the financial domain. 

These depositories appoint agents called Depository Participants (DPs) like banks, brokers, and financial institutions. DPs maintain investors' accounts and handle the settlement of trades. An investor's Demat account with a DP shows their shareholding in electronic form.

To open a Demat account, the investor fills out forms with the DP. When they buy shares, the DP credits that number of shares to the investor's Demat account electronically. No physical share certificates are issued. Similarly, when shares are sold, the DP debits the shares from the Demat account.

The Demat account holder, being the real owner of the securities, is known as the beneficial owner. All buying, selling or transferring happens by making entries directly in these electronic Demat accounts without any physical movement of shares.  Investors receive regular statements from the DPs showing their current holdings and transaction details.

Functions of Depository

The depository performs several functions. This includes the following:

  1. Dematerialisation of Securities:

    It converts physical share certificates into digital/electronic files. This makes it much easier to hold, transfer and trade securities.
  2. Faster Trade Settlements:

    When investors buy or sell shares, the depository settles these transactions quickly by transferring the securities from the seller's account directly to the buyer's account electronically.
  3. Handling Corporate Actions:

    The depository facilitates various corporate procedures for companies. This includes the distribution of dividends, issuing bonus shares, and recording changes in ownership/shareholding patterns.
  4. Holding Other Investments:

    Apart from shares, the depository also maintains electronic records of investors' holdings in mutual fund units. This simplifies the process of buying and selling mutual funds.
  5. Facilitating Collateral:

    Investors can pledge their electronically-held securities as collateral when applying for loans from banks and financial institutions through the depository system.

Role of Depository in Financial Markets

Depository services are essential to the financial markets. It offers a secure and effective way to store and transfer assets, lowering the danger of physical certificates being lost or stolen. Additionally, this lowers the transaction costs related to the actual transfer of securities. The depository also encourages the financial markets' efficiency and openness. It gives investors access to real-time data on their stock ownership and trades, increasing transparency and lowering the possibility of fraud.

The depository also facilitates the integration of the financial markets. It allows investors to access securities markets across different regions and countries, which increases liquidity and diversifies investment opportunities.

The depository system has simplified the Indian stock market investment process. It guarantees transaction security and provides securities to investors whenever necessary.  As a result, the stock market's digitization has decreased fraudulent trades. There are many stock market apps available for investors which allow them to access the trading space from anywhere in the world. However, it is suggested to conduct proper research and compare competitors before downloading an online trading app. This will help you to make informed decisions regarding all the aspects related to the trading world.

FAQs on Depository

Depository services meaning refer to the facilities provided by depositories like CDSL and NSDL that allow investors to hold and transfer securities electronically. These services enable the safekeeping of shares, bonds, and mutual funds in a dematerialized form instead of physical certificates.

Depositories use various security measures, including firewalls, password protection, and access controls, to protect their digital securities holdings from fraud and unapproved access. Additionally, depositories carry out routine audits and evaluations to ensure that laws and standards are being followed.

Yes, a shareholder may maintain numerous depository accounts, but only with distinct depository participants (DPs). For each depository where they wish to keep securities, the investor has to create a new account with another DP.

Yes, there are frequent costs involved while working with a depository, including custody costs, transaction costs, and account maintenance costs. Based on the depository and the services offered, these costs change.

A stock exchange is an exchange where securities are purchased and sold, whereas a depository is a repository of assets that holds and transfers equities in electronic form. While deposits and stock exchanges collaborate to make securities trading easier, their roles in the world of finance are distinct.

One key difference between a bank account and a depository is its holdings; the bank stores money, whereas the depository holds your financial holdings in electronic format.

There are two depositories in India: the NSDL and the CDSL. The NSDL stands for National Securities Depositories Ltd, and the CDSL stands for Central Securities Depositories Ltd.

A depository account, also known as a Demat account, is an electronic account that allows investors to hold and trade securities like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in a dematerialised form.