GST Suvidha Providers – FAQ’s
Q:1 Need for having GST Suvidha Providers?
The GST System is going to have a G2B portal for taxpayers to access the GST Systems, however, that would not be the only way for interacting with the GST system. GST system architecture is an API based platform and therefore taxpayer via his choice of third party applications, which will provide all user interfaces and convenience via desktop, mobile, other interfaces, will be able to interact with the GST system. The third party applications will connect to GST system via secure GST System APIs. All the functionalities of GST portal will be available through APIs. All such applications are expected to be developed by third party service providers who have been given a generic name, GST Suvidha Provider or GSP. The GSPs are envisaged to provide innovative and convenient methods to taxpayers and other stakeholders in interacting with the GST Systems from registration of entity to uploading of invoice details to filing of returns. Thus there will be two sets of interactions, one between the App user and the GSP and the second between the GSP and the GST System.
Q:2 What will be the role of GSTN in GSP eco-system?
GSTN will be the overall regulator and overseer of the API based system whereas, Infosys, the managed service provider (MSP) selected by GSTN to create GST Systems, will set up the requisite process enrolment, establishment of secure connectivity and assisting GSPs in smooth integration of APIs along with running operations of GSPs on behalf of GSTN.
Q:3 How will GSPs connect to GST Systems?
The prerequisite for GSPs to connect GST System is to setup a secure connection using MPLS/VPN over internet to GSTN data centers. Currently, GSTN envisages two data centres. GSPs will use GST authentication to enable their services and connect to the GST system through an MPLS/ VPN over internet connectivity after validation of license key. Only agencies contracted with GSTN as GSPs shall send authentication requests to the GST System. Following are some of the key principle for API framework adopted in design of GST System:
- API layer would not be exposed to untrusted connection
- All external users (including officials / taxpayers) will connect to GSTN portal through SSL Layer of authentication along with user id, single sign authentication / OTP etc.
- All APIs level access either to department systems or to Servers of GSPs ( for users accessing the system through the GSPs) will be through HTTPS and through either of the below mode of connectivity:
- MPLS or
- VPN over internet
- GSPs will sign up with GSTN and get the license key for accessing the system through either of the channels namely MPLS or VPN over internet.
- GST system will have provision to support issuance of license key / sub licenses key including validation of the same in the GST System
- All data transfer from / to GST system will happen through APIs
- App signature authentication will be through the license key + time stamp + app version and other meta data
- All the APIs would be stateless in nature.
Q:4 Who can become a GSP?
- Registered in India as a company/firm
- Engaged in development of software
- No criteria attached to turnover or years of experience
For illustration, companies having ‘Accounting Software Products’ could be one group which could be interested as they are already providing services to taxpayers under VAT/Excise/Service Tax/Entertainment Tax etc. which are to be subsumed under GST.
New age Internet companies are expected to be the other major group who could be interested in joining the eco-system being developed for GST Rollout, not only for Apps for registration, upload of invoices, return filing but also for providing accounting systems to be used by micros and small enterprises who are not using any accounting software.
Industry association of group which want to provide this as a service to its members. For example ACMA/SIAM could expand their current EDI project named ‘AutoDX’ into a GSP. Large tax payers having large volume of invoices to be uploaded can also sign up with GSTN and get the license key for accessing the system through either of the channels namely MPLS or VPN over internet.
Q:5 How can one become a GSP?
- Identify business/service delivery needs and select appropriate authentication types
- Fill online application form (coming soon)
- Send signed contract and supporting documents to GSTN. Contract document is under process of formulation and inputs of industry on contract are most welcome.
- Ensure process and technology compliance as prescribed by GSTN
- Obtain approvals from GSTN and sign contract with it
- Develop services and start working as a GSP
Q:6 What will be the business model for GSP operation?
The GSPs will be free to adopt business models they chose to recover the cost of operations from their users and/or through advertisements. As far as the interaction between GSP and the GST System is concerned, the same will be free for the first year of operation and will become chargeable after that. The cost recovery from second year onwards will be based on per API call made to GST System and the same will be determined in an open and transparent manner by dividing cost of operation by total number of APIs over a period of time. It is pertinent to mention that GSTN is a not-for-profit company. The specific details for metering will be updated later when finalized.
Q:7 Can GSPs determine their billing plan independently?
Yes, this would be left entirely to the GSPs. GSTN does not intend to have any restrictions on this. To be competitive, GSPs anyway would have to be pragmatic in their pricing.
Q:8 What will be the SLAs for GSTN operationally to support GSPs?
The SLAs are yet to be defined. This is work in progress and would be finalized in the days to come. Inputs from industry on this would help prepare the draft.
Q:9 Will GSP be required to get the application certified from GSTN or its approved agency?
Since GSP provided applications will be used by taxpayers for exchanging information with GST Systems, they will be required to get certified from STQC or an agency approved by STQC at their own expense.
Q:10 What will be the SLAs from STQC/third party auditors to certify the GSP services?
The SLAs of STQC and its approved agencies are available in public domain. The same will be made available prior to the audit process so that applications can abide by the required standards during their development process.
Q:11 Will a taxpayer be allowed to be registered with multiple GSPs?
Yes, if the taxpayer desires so, it would be possible to choose a set of services from one GSP and the rest from other GSPs.
Q:12 For hosting GST specific application, will there be any condition on location of Data Centre?
- GSP will be mandated to connect to the GST system directly through an MPLS or VPN connection. Hence GSPs connectivity will necessarily have to be from onshore i.e. from within India.
- The GSP application, which will connect to GST system via VPN/MPLS line and access GST APIs, must be hosted within India.
- The GSP is just a secured pass through mechanism for the tax payers data, hence it is of utmost importance that the data coming from GSP to GST system should be encrypted. Therefore, if there is an ASP (application Service Provider of tool e.g. accounting software) who is partnering with a GSP (ASP-GSP model), then ASP should send encrypted data to GSP, so that GSP cannot peek in to Tax Payer Data.
Q:13 How will Tax payers know the list of GSPs available to consume their services? Will GSTN have any strategy to help tax payers identify their GSPs?
The list of authorized GSPs and their services portfolio would be published on GST portal.
Q:14 What benefits would a Tax payer see to consume the GSP’s application, when GSTN provides the portal to perform all processes?
A GSP providing tax accounting software will have the advantage of already providing the tax payer with a vast majority of the taxation functionality. It will help the tax payer if the delta process of upload of the invoice/return and reconciliation of the same is also provided by the GSP. Whereas in case of GST portal, another set of exercise manually or otherwise will have to be done to upload the invoice data or the return. The interface and features exposed by GST portal will be uniform for all taxpayers and might be basic in form and design. On the other hand GSPs are expected to have richer interfaces and features required by specific group (large taxpayers with completely automated financial system, SME with semi-automated system and small size with no system) of taxpayers. Also, by sheer size the GST portal will not be as nimble as that provided by a GSP.
GSPs can come up with application to provide GST filing facility in existing software or develop end-to-end solution for SME and small taxpayer to manage their sale/purchase and GST filing e.g. an offline utility like spreadsheet, which taxpayer can fill their invoice details and then upload on GST portal for processing. Similarly, for Tax Consultants (TC), GSPs can provide dashboard to display list of his/her all clients and clicking on a particular client can give TC the snapshot of the actions/ pending actions by client.
GSPs can provide innovative/value added features, which would distinguish them with other GSPs in the market.
Q:15 Will there be APIs to update each record to identify capital goods/raw materials?
Yes, there will be bulk update APIs to update such information in auto-drafted purchase statement.
Q:16 Will GSTN generate a unique identification for each invoice line in GSTN system?
No, GSTN will not generate any new identification. The combination of Supplier’s GSTIN, Invoice no and Financial year with HSN/SAC Code will make each line unique.
Q:17 How will GSPs ensure that changes made in GST Rules get implemented in their system fast?
GSPs need to design the Applications in such a way that any change in policy can be pushed to the applications by GST System. Say for example, if the rate of a commodity or service gets changed, the GST system should be able to push this information and the new rate gets reflected in the applications.
Q:18 Is the list of APIs available?
The list of APIs along with full description of APIs is available at the following URL.
Q:19 Has GSTN set up sandbox for testing the API’s?
Yes, a sandbox has been setup at —-.—-.—–.—-
Q:20 What was done in First GSP Workshop?
We organized First GSP Workshop in Bengaluru on 29th Jan, 2016, where over 100 companies from private sector operating in different domains viz Software products development firms- Accounting & Payment solutions, Digital signature certificates/e-signatures providers and Innovative solutions providers (Start-ups/Known famous IT firms) for e-disconnected taxpayers.
The GSP concept, model and architecture were presented to full house audience and well appreciated by industry groups.
Q:21 What has been done so far since First GSP Workshop?
On-Boarding model and contract for GSPs is being drafted.
Q:22 What would be next Steps?
Once On-Boarding model and contract is finalized, it will be shared on the portal to for reference. 2nd Workshop will be conducted soon with one focussed industry sector. Details will be shared once dates are finalized.