Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has advised stock exchanges to open or maintain at least one investor service centre for the benefit of investors. In a circular dated June 26, the capital markets regulator said such centres are required to provide counselling services and certain basic minimum facilities to the investors. According to SEBI, the decision has been taken considering significant development in the securities market, including technological advancements.

As per the circular, SEBI has mandated invested service centres to provide a list of basic facilities. SEBI said facility for four financial daily newspapers with at least one in the regional language should be provided where the centre is situated. In case, the financial newspaper is not available in the regional language of the place, any leading newspaper in that regional language shall be provided.

The capital markets regulator has asked stock exchanges to provide a dedicated desktop or laptop with internet connectivity to enable the investors to access various relevant information available in the public domain and also to access SEBI’s and stock exchange's grievance redressal portals.

According to SEBI, stock exchanges should provide facilities for receiving investor complaints in both physical and electronic form in the service centres. "One dedicated staff shall be posted at the ISC to register investor complaints and also to guide & counsel the investors. The updated status of all complaints shall be maintained in electronic form," SEBI said.

The capital markets regulator has asked stock exchanges to provide facilitation desks at all centres to assist the investors in the dispute resolution process. The desks, according to SEBI, will provide investors with the required documents or details, if any, for making applications to investor grievance redressal panels and filing arbitration applications (including appellate arbitration).

In order to facilitate online arbitration, SEBI has asked stock exchanges to provide arbitration and appellate arbitration facility at all centres.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the capital markets regulator has introduced ASBA (application supported by blocked amount)-like facility for secondary markets based on blocked funds in an investors’ account with an aim to safeguard investors’ money from misuse by stock brokers. ASBA facility is already available in the primary market.

SEBI, in its circular dated June 26, said the facility will come into effect beginning January 1, 2024. The new facility will be provided by the integration of UPI (unified payment interface) mandate service of single-block-and multiple-debits into secondary market trading and settlement process and UPI block facility. The UPI mandate service will be approved by RBI.

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