Opinion | The deep driving Indian desire for a secure return
A deep discount bond from a ‘safe’ issuer ticks all the boxes for the middle Indian investor
A granddad buys a bond for his grandchild. Nothing unusual except that there is no grandchild. His recently married offspring has zero plans for having a child in the near future. But the appeal of turning ₹2,700 into ₹1 lakh over 25 years was a compelling story in 1992. As it was in 1996 when ICICI Bank came to the market with its tranche of deep discount bonds (that do not pay periodic interest but accumulate it in the bond and return the principal plus accumulated and reinvested interest in the future) and another set of households rushed to buy and lock in their long-term returns. That was the buzz around the deep discount bonds in the 1990s when IDBI Ltd, ICICI Bank and others used this bond type to tap directly into the household savings. A deep discount bond from a “safe" issuer ticks all the boxes for the middle Indian investor—it is safe, the period of investment is known, the return is better than a fixed deposit (FD) and the amount at the end of the period is a known number. You have to only see the success of the traditional insurance products (such as money-back and endowment) that give an effective return that is poorer than that of a bank deposit, to understand how deeply middle India craves safety, predictability of return and the promise of money-back when it is due.