A commercial bank
is a type of financial intermediary
and a type of bank
. Commercial banking is also known as business banking
. After the Great Depression
, the U.S. Congress required that banks only engage in banking activities, whereas investment banks
were limited to capital market activities. As the two no longer have to be under separate ownership under U.S. law, some use the term "commercial bank" to refer to a bank or a division of a bank primarily dealing with deposits and loans from corporations or large businesses. In some other jurisdictions, the strict separation of investment and commercial banking never applied. Commercial banking may also be seen as distinct from retail banking
, which involves the provision of financial services direct to consumers. Many banks offer both commercial and retail banking services.
Commercial bank has two possible meanings:
- Commercial bank is the term used for a normal bank to distinguish it from an investment bank.
This is what people normally call a "bank". The term "commercial" was used to distinguish it from an investment bank. Since the two types of banks no longer have to be separate companies, some have used the term "commercial bank" to refer to banks which focus mainly on companies. In some English-speaking countries outside North America, the term "trading bank" was and is used to denote a commercial bank. During the great depression and after the stock market crash of 1929, the U.S. Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act 1933-35 (Khambata 1996) requiring that commercial banks only engage in banking activities (accepting deposits and making loans, as well as other fee based services), whereas investment banks were limited to capital markets activities. This separation is no longer mandatory.
It raises funds by collecting deposits from businesses and consumers via checkable deposits, savings deposits, and time (or term) deposits. It makes loans to businesses and consumers. It also buys corporate bonds and government bonds. Its primary liabilities are deposits and primary assets are loans and bonds.
- Commercial banking can also refer to a bank or a division of a bank that mostly deals with deposits and loans from corporations or large businesses, as opposed to normal individual members of the public (retail banking).
Origin of the word
The name bank
derives from the Italian
"desk/bench", used during the Renaissance
bankers, who used to make their transactions above a desk covered by a green tablecloth. However, there are traces of banking activity even in ancient times.
In fact, the word traces its origins back to the Ancient Roman Empire, where moneylenders would set up their stalls in the middle of enclosed courtyards called macella on a long bench called a bancu, from which the words banco and bank are derived. As a moneychanger, the merchant at the bancu did not so much invest money as merely convert the foreign currency into the only legal tender in Rome- that of the Imperial Mint.
The role of commercial banks
Commercial banks engaged in the following activities:
- processing of payments by way of telegraphic transfer, EFTPOS, internet banking or other means
- issuing bank drafts and bank cheques
- accepting money on term deposit
- lending money by way of overdraft, installment loan or otherwise
- providing documentary and standby letter of credit, guarantees, performance bonds, securities underwriting commitments and other forms of off balance sheet exposures
- safekeeping of documents and other items in safe deposit boxes
- currency exchange
- sale, distribution or brokerage, with or without advice, of insurance, unit trusts and similar financial products as a “financial supermarket”
Types of loans granted by commercial banks
A secured loan
is a loan in which the borrower pledges some asset (e.g. a car or property) as collateral
(i.e., security) for the loan.
A mortgage loan
is a very common type of debt instrument, used to purchase real estate. Under this arrangement, the money is used to purchase property. Commercial banks, however, are given security - a lien
on the title to the house - until the mortgage is paid off in full. If the borrower defaults
on the loan, the bank would have the legal right to repossess the house and sell it, to recover sums owing to it.
In the past, commercial banks have not been greatly interested in real estate loans and have placed only a relatively small percentage of their assets in mortgages. As their name implies, such financial institutions secured their earning primarily from commercial and consumer loans and left the major task of home financing to others. However, due to changes in banking laws and policies, commercial banks are increasingly active in home financing.
Changes in banking laws now allow commercial banks to make home mortgage loans on a more liberal basis than ever before. In acquiring mortgages on real estate, these institutions follow two main practices. First, some of the banks maintain active and well-organized departments whose primary function is to compete actively for real estate loans. In areas lacking specialized real estate financial institutions, these banks become the source for residential and farm mortgage loans. Second, the banks acquire mortgages by simply purchasing them from mortgage bankers or dealers.
In addition, dealer service companies, which were originally used to obtain car loans for permanent lenders such as commercial banks, wanted to broaden their activity beyond their local area. In recent years, however, such companies have concentrated on acquiring mobile home loans in volume for both commercial banks and savings and loan associations. Service companies obtain these loans from retail dealers, usually on a nonrecourse basis. Almost all bank/service company agreements contain a credit insurance policy that protects the lender if the consumer defaults.
are monetary loans that are not secured against the borrowers assets (i.e., no collateral
is involved). These may be available from financial institutions under many different guises or marketing packages:
- Brunner, Allan D.; Decressin, Jörg; Hardy, Daniel C. L.; Kudela, Beata "Germany's Three-Pillar Banking System: Cross-Country Perspectives in Europe". International Monetary Fund. . Abstract
- Khambata, Dara (1996). The practice of multinational banking: macro-policy issues and key international concepts. 2nd, New York: Quorum Books.