A chit fund is a kind of savings scheme practiced in India. A chit fund company is a company that manages, conducts, or supervises a chit scheme—as defined in Section of the Chit Funds Act, 1982. According to Section 2(b) of the Chit Fund Act, 1982:
- "Chit means a transaction whether called chit, chit fund, chitty, kuree or by any other name by or under which a person enters into an agreement with a specified number of persons that every one of them shall subscribe a certain sum of money (or a certain quantity of grain instead) by way of periodical installments over a definite period and that each such subscriber shall, in his turn, as determined by lot or by auction or by tender or in such other manner as may be specified in the chit agreement, be entitled to the prize amount".
Such chit fund schemes may be conducted by organised financial institutions, or may be unorganised schemes conducted between friends or relatives. In some variations of chit funds, the savings are for a specific purpose. Chit funds also played an important role in the financial development of people of south Indian state of Kerala, by providing easier access to credit. In Kerala, chitty (chit fund) is a common phenomenon practiced by all sections of the society. A company named Kerala State Financial Enterprise exists under the Kerala State Government, whose main business activity is the chitty.
How it works: example
Chit funds operate different ways, and there are also many fraudulent tactics practiced by private firms. The basic necessity of conducting a 'Chitty' is a group needy people called subscribers. The foreman—the company or person conducting the chitty—brings these people together and conducts the chitty. The foreman is also responsible for collecting the money from subscribers, presiding over the auctions, and keeping subscriber records. He is compensated by a fixed amount (generally 5% of gross chitty amount) monthly for his efforts. Other than that, the foreman has no specific privileges, he is just a chitty subscriber. A simple formula depicts the pattern of the chitty:
Monthly Premium × Duration in Months = Gross Amount
E.g., 1000 * 50 = 50,000/- Where 1000 is the maximum monthly contribution needed from a subscriber, 50 is the duration of the chitty in months and 50,000 is the maximum sum assured. The duration also equals the number of subscribers, as there must be (not more or less) one subscriber to receive the prize money every month.
The chitty starts on an announced date, every subscriber come together for the auction/lot. As per Kerala chit act, the minimum prize money of an auction is limited to 70% of the gross sum assured that is 35,000 in the above example. When there are more than one person willing to take this minimum sum, lot are conducted and the 'Lucky subscriber' get the prize money for the month. If there is no person willing to take the minimum sum, then a reverse auction is conducted where subscribers open-bid for lower amounts; that is from 50,000 >> 49,000 >> 48,000, and so on. The person bidding lowest sum get bid amount.
In both the cases the auction discount, that is the difference between the gross sum and auction amount, is equally distributed among subscribers or is deducted from their monthly premium. For example if the auction is settled on a sum of 40,000, then the auction discount of 10,000 (50,000 - 40,000) is divided by 50 (the total number of subscribers) and every one gets a discount of 200. The same practice is repeated every month and every subscriber gets a chance of receiving some money.
Contribution of Thrissur
According to All Kerala Kuri Foremen's Association, Kerala has around 5,000 chit companies, with Thrissur district accounting for the maximum of 3,000. These chit companies provide employment to about 35,000 persons directly and an equal number indirectly.
Chit funds in India are governed by various state or central laws. Organised chit fund schemes are required to register with the Registrar or Firms, Societies and Chits.
- Union Government - Chit Funds Act 1982 (Except the State of Jammu and Kashmir)
- Kerala: Kerala Chitties Act 1975
- Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu Chit Funds Act, 1961
- Karnataka: The Chit Funds (Karnataka) Rules, 1983
- Andhra Pradesh: The Andhra Pradesh Chit Funds Act, 1971
- New Delhi: The Chit Funds Act,1982 and Delhi Chit Funds Rules, 2007
- Maharashtra: Maharashtra Chit Fund Act 1975
Organised chit funds
In North India, a common type of chit fund uses small paper slips with each members name, gathered in a box. When all members are at a monthly or weekly meeting, the one in charge—in front of the other members—picks a slip from the box. The member so selected gets that day's collection. Afterwards, that persons name slip is discarded. Thereafter, he comes to the meetings and pays his share, but his name isn't selected again.
Special purpose funds
Some chit funds are conducted as a savings scheme for a specific purpose. An example is the Deepavali sweets fund, which has a specific end date about a week before Deepavali. Neighbourhood ladies pool their savings each week. They use this fund to buy and prepare sweets in bulk just before the Deepavali festival, and they distribute sweets to all members. Preparation of Deepavali sweets may be a time consuming and costly activity for individuals. Such a chit reduces costs, and relieves members from extra work in a busy festival season. Nowadays, such special purpose chits are conducted by jewellery shops, kitchenware shops, etc. to promote their products.
Online Chit Funds
With the advent of ecommerce in India, Chit funds have also started going online. Online chit funds conduct auctions online and subscribers can pay their monthly dues and receive prize amount online through online transactions including electronic fund transfers. Each member has an online account to manage their chit funds.
- "Chit Funds Act, 1982". Financial Intelligence Unit – India. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
- Does Competition in the Microfinance Industry Necessarily Mean Over-borrowing? Ratul Lahkar, Viswanath Pingali , Santadarshan Sadhu, December 2012
- "Chit fund cos on the rise in Kerala". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
- Klonner, Stefan (October 2002), Understanding Chit Funds: Price Determination and the Role of Auction Formats in Rotating Savings and Credit Associations, Williams College, archived from the original (PDF) on 14 March 2012, retrieved 14 March 2012.