What is a Depository? Meaning, Functions and Examples | Share India
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A depository is very similar to a bank. A bank provides multiple services, the most important one being the facility to deposit and store money. Just like a bank, a depository provides multiple services, with the most important one being the demat account service. Opening a demat account enables investors and traders to store equity and other securities in an electronic form. There are multiple securities you can store in the dematerialised form, and they are

  • Equity, i.e. shares or stocks of a company

  • Bonds and Debentures

  • Sovereign Gold Bonds

  • Exchange Traded Funds

  • Government Bonds

  • Mutual Funds

  • Tax-Free Bonds

  • Certificates of Deposits

The Depository Revolution

Before introducing the depositories and demat account, trading was done with physical securities. This meant share certificates were traded with sellers, or shareholders would send their shares to the company’s registrar with a transfer form and the buyer receiving freshly issued share certificates after submitting the transfer form. Shares would have to be delivered to the buyer through the post, which posed multiple risks. There were multiple issues associated with physical shares. They are:

  • Share certificates could get lost in the postal system.

  • Shares also had the chance of being damaged during the postal process.

  • Share transfer could get rejected due to disparities in signatures.

  • It was easy to forge new shares.

  • Trading without actually owning shares could be carried out, quickly.

To eradicate this and many other issues the demat account was introduced with the help of depositories.

Benefits of Depository in India

The introduction of the depository has led to multiple benefits for India and its traders. Here are the benefits that you, as a trader, can avail of.

  • Security

    The introduction of the demat account led to an improvement in security when compared to the trading and storage of physical securities. The chance of losing certificates during transit is eliminated, and securities are directly deposited into the demat account. Storage no longer becomes an issue eradicating the fear of theft. The introduction of the depository means safety to all securities as everything is in electronic form.

    Apart from this, depositories also take security measures to ensure all traders' and investors' investments are safe and no malpractices occur. These practices include

    Inspection of activities carried out by DP.

    End to End encryption of transactions carried through them

    Take up insurance policies for losses incurred due to negligence, errors or omissions.

  • Ease of Transfer

    Initially, the transfer of ownership of shares was a lengthy and tedious process. It would take approximately two weeks as the settlement period was T+14 days. Now it has been brought down to T+2 days. This means it would only take two working days from buying to receive shares or selling to receive the money. This reduction in time has been possible due to the electronic transfer of securities and the Indian postal system not being involved in the transfer process.

  • Cost Reductions

    Physical shares have multiple charges, such as postage charges, stamp duty, etc. The elimination of paper certificates, postage services, etc., has reduced costs in total, which has also led to a reduction in brokerage charges.

  • Reports and Updates

    With the help of a depository, all data is readily available to you and the authorities. Depositories are mandated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India to share regular reports of all securities present in their owner’s account via email or SMS. This ensures that all account holders are updated regularly. An account holder must also receive information when a security is bought and sold, giving the demat account holder complete knowledge about the holding or any changes made to their account.

  • Updation Issues

    Previously if you have invested in more than one company and have to update information like a change of residential or postal address or bank account changes, you have to contact each company individually. For any updation of details, you must send a courier of all your documents to them, and they would then make the necessary changes in their record. Depositories have expedited this process where modifications are done in your demat account and will be reflected in all the concerned companies whose shares you own.


There are multiple services a deposit provides that traders and investors alike can make use of.

  • Demat Account

    This is the most popular service and is used by investors to store securities in a safe manner.

  • Dematerialisation Service

    This lets the individuals convert all physical assets like bonds, ETFs, shares, etc. into the electronic form for storage in the demat account.

  • Rematiralsation Services

    This service enables you to convert securities stored in the demat account into physical securities.

  • Transfers between Depositories

    This service enables demat account holders to transfer securities from one account to another, which can be in the same depository or a different one.

  • Off-Market Transfers

    Off-market traders are those trades that don’t involve any clearinghouses for the transactions. Depositories enable this service to allow buyers and sellers to trade in equity without being involved in the stock market.

  • Lending of Securities

    This service involves a holder of a security, typically shares or bonds, to transfer them to a borrower and be used by them. The borrower must have to pay the borrower fee or collateral to the lender.

  • Nomination Services

    This service enables customers to add a nominee to their accounts. This ensures that if something ever happens to the holder, the nominee will be informed and have a position in the account.

  • Collateral and Mortgage of Securities

    This service lets an account holder pledge their shares as collateral, with the owner borrowing a certain percentage of the value as a loan. This enables the investor to get the required cash without selling their valuable assets.

Functions of a Depository

Apart from the various services provided, there are certain functions that depositories carry out, and understanding them will help you know the meaning of depository.

  • Transactions

    All securities transactions on the share market occur with the depositories' help, ensuring a seamless transfer of ownership. This process is carried out quickly with shares and money exchanging hands in a short period of time.

  • Corporate Actions

    Depositories help out companies when they have to issue dividends, bonus shares, etc. They also assist in e-voting services and other functions that a depository carries out effortlessly.

  • Pledging of shares

    Multiple investors tend to take loans against their shares by pledging them. Depositories tend to provide a collateral account where shares are held upto the time when the borrowed money is repaid.

Depository in India

After understanding the depository meaning, knowing the depositories in India will help you decide whom to open a demat account with and use their services.

  • National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL)

    NSDL is the oldest depository in India and began providing various services in 1996. They were the first depository to provide electronic trading services and primarily cater to the National Stock Exchange (NSE). They have more than two crores, of active customers, with about 276 DP.

  • Central Depository Services India Limited (CDSL)

    CDSL came into existence in 1999 to provide a secure and dependable depository service. It has grown to be the largest depository in India with over 5 crore demat accounts and over 500 depository participants.

Depository Participants (DP)

To avail of any services provided by depositories, one can not directly approach them. Instead, an investor must make use of a DP. A depository participant is an entity with a membership with a depository and enables its customers with different services. A depository can be anyone

  • A bank

  • A non-banking financial company (NBFC)

  • A stockbroker

Some DP provides additional services like trading accounts, portfolio management, trade suggestions, etc.


Understanding what a depository is will benefit you drastically to use all the services they provide. A DP will assist you in opening a demat account and make use of all the features giving you a hassle-free trading experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A DP can help you with various issues apart from just opening a demat account. They can provide trading and other investment solutions as well. For example, you can use a bank to open a demat account without gaining trading services. On the other hand, if you have investment capital with a significant risk appetite, you can opt for an NBFC or a stockbroker. The choice of the right broker depends on multiple factors and can be decided based on the services one needs.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is responsible for monitoring all stock market-related operations that involve depositories and DP. They set the necessary guidelines and ensure they are followed for the benefit of investors and traders.

To open a demat account, you need a DP who will help you open a statement with the depository. There’s no other way to open a demat account, but you can choose which type of DP you want to open an account with, i.e. bank, NBFC or stockbroker.
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