To attract retail investors, mutual fund houses are tapping social media platforms like WhatsApp and a host of other calling and messaging apps to facilitate transactions in MF products.
These new facilities will help investors in buying or selling mutual fund (MF) products in a simpler and faster manner, experts said.
Mutual fund houses that have adopted digital modes such as internet and mobiles for increasing distribution of MF products include Axis MF, Reliance MF, UTI MF, L&T MF, Quantum MF and ICICI Prudential MF.
Besides, several fund houses are allowing customers to invest, redeem and switch funds using their mobile phones and a host of mutual funds are gearing up to adopt digital technology to tap investors.
Quantum MF is offering WhatsApp facility to either transact or see mutual fund portfolios.
L&T MF has introduced a new service--Goinvest--where customers can track their investments on Facebook. Besides, Axis MF's Easy Services that includes EasyCall, EasySms, EasyApp provide customers an option to invest in MF schemes through an SMS, using a dedicated application or by calling up on a designated mobile number.
"Digitalisation adds a lot of convenience and comfort for investors in today's world.
With the increase in the Internet reach and number of smartphones, digitalisation will always be preferred by investors," Quantum AMC head-Customer Delight Harshad Chetanwala said.
"MF houses have been focusing on the online platform for the investors to transact. The idea is to keep it as simple as possible for the investor to invest with the AMCs," he added.
At present, many fund houses are offering facility for online investment, but industry insiders say that there is a need to promote and make it more user friendly for investors by improving the infrastructure and efficiencies.
Further, Sebi had also set up an expert panel to suggest measures for increasing distribution of MF products through digital modes.
According to an estimate, number of Internet-enabled mobile phones in the country is expected to increase from 10-15 million in 2010 to 300-400 million in 2015.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is of the view that a greater use of Internet as a distribution channel can help increase the penetration of mutual funds, especially among young investors.
As per the regulator, the online phenomenon is growing rapidly as more and more people, especially the younger generation, prefer to carry out most of transactions online such as Internet banking, shopping and ticketing. Nearly 45 fund houses together manage assets worth over Rs 12 lakh crore in India, but fund mobilisation has been a tough task for them in the past few years.
One of the biggest reasons behind this low fund mobilisation is the lack of healthy participation from a large part of the country.
A Sebi-conducted study had said that MF presence in the country is heavily skewed in favour of top 60 districts.
Out of 60 districts, a lion's share of MF presence originates from Mumbai as the city houses the headquarters of most of the large companies, thereby getting a bulk of investments through the non-retail or institutional routes.