What Is A Bank ? Introduction, Definition And Features Of Bank

What Is A Bank ?

Introduction

Finance is the life blood of trade, commerce and industry. Now-a-days, banking sector acts as the backbone of modern business. Development of any country mainly depends upon the banking system.

The term bank is either derived from old Italian word banca or from a French word banque both mean a Bench or money exchange table. In olden days, European money lenders or money changers used to display (show) coins of different countries in big heaps (quantity) on benches or tables for the purpose of lending or exchanging.

A bank is a financial institution which deals with deposits and advances and other related services. It receives money from those who want to save in the form of deposits and it lends money to those who need it.

Definition of a Bank

Oxford Dictionary defines a bank as "an establishment for custody of money, which it pays out on customer's order."

Characteristics / Features of a Bank

  1. Dealing in Money- Bank is a financial institution which deals with other people's money i.e. money given by depositors.
  2. Individual / Firm / Company- A bank may be a person, firm or a company. A banking company means a company which is in the business of banking.
  3. Acceptance of Deposit- A bank accepts money from the people in the form of deposits which are usually repayable on demand or after the expiry of a fixed period. It gives safety to the deposits of its customers. It also acts as a custodian of funds of its customers.
  4. Giving Advances- A bank lends out money in the form of loans to those who require it for different purposes.
  5. Payment and Withdrawal- A bank provides easy payment and withdrawal facility to its customers in the form of cheques and drafts, It also brings bank money in circulation. This money is in the form of cheques, drafts, etc.
  6. Agency and Utility Services- A bank provides various banking facilities to its customers. They include general utility services and agency services.
  7. Profit and Service Orientation- A bank is a profit seeking institution having service oriented approach.
  8. Ever increasing Functions- Banking is an evolutionary concept. There is continuous expansion and diversification as regards the functions, services and activities of a bank.
  9. Connecting Link- A bank acts as a connecting link between borrowers and lenders of money. Banks collect money from those who have surplus money and give the same to those who are in need of money.
  10. Banking Business- A bank's main activity should be to do business of banking which should not be subsidiary to any other business.
  11. Name Identity- A bank should always add the word "bank" to its name to enable people to know that it is a bank and that it is dealing in money.

Different Types of Banks - What are Various Kinds of Banks ?

Type 1. Saving Banks - Saving banks are established to create saving habit among the people. These banks are helpful for salaried people and low income groups. The deposits collected from customers are invested in bonds, securities, etc. At present most of the commercial banks carry the functions of savings banks. Postal department also performs the functions of saving bank.

Type 2. Commercial Banks - Commercial banks are established with an objective to help businessmen. These banks collect money from general public and give short-term loans to businessmen by way of cash credits, overdrafts, etc. Commercial banks provide various services like collecting cheques, bill of exchange, remittance money from one place to another place.
In India, commercial banks are established under Companies Act, 1956. In 1969, 14 commercial banks were nationalised by Government of India. The policies regarding deposits, loans, rate of interest, etc. of these banks are controlled by the Central Bank.

Type 3. Industrial Banks / Development Banks - Industrial / Development banks collect cash by issuing shares & debentures and providing long-term loans to industries. The main objective of these banks is to provide long-term loans for expansion and modernisation of industries.
In India such banks are established on a large scale after independence. They are Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI), Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) and Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI).

Type 4. Land Mortgage / Land Development Banks - Land Mortgage or Land Development banks are also known as Agricultural Banks because these are formed to finance agricultural sector. They also help in land development.
In India, Government has come forward to assist these banks. The Government has guaranteed the debentures issued by such banks. There is a great risk involved in the financing of agriculture and generally commercial banks do not take much interest in financing agricultural sector.

Type 5. Indigenous Banks - Indigenous banks means Money Lenders and Sahukars. They collect deposits from general public and grant loans to the needy persons out of their own funds as well as from deposits. These indigenous banks are popular in villages and small towns. They perform combined functions of trading and banking activities. Certain well-known indian communities like Marwaries and Multani even today run specialised indigenous banks.

Type 6. Central / Federal / National Bank - Every country of the world has a central bank. In India, Reserve Bank of India, in U.S.A, Federal Reserve and in U.K, Bank of England. These central banks are the bankers of the other banks. They provide specialised functions i.e. issue of paper currency, working as bankers of government, supervising and controlling foreign exchange. A central bank is a non-profit making institution. It does not deal with the public but it deals with other banks. The principal responsibility of Central Bank is thorough control on currency of a country.

Type 7. Co-operative Banks - In India, Co-operative banks are registered under the Co-operative Societies Act, 1912. They generally give credit facilities to small farmers, salaried employees, small-scale industries, etc. Co-operative Banks are available in rural as well as in urban areas. The functions of these banks are just similar to commercial banks.

Type 8. Exchange Banks - Hong Kong Bank, Bank of Tokyo, Bank of America are the examples of Foreign Banks working in India. These banks are mainly concerned with financing foreign trade.

Following are the various functions of Exchange Banks :-

  1. Remitting money from one country to another country,
  2. Discounting of foreign bills,
  3. Buying and Selling Gold and Silver, and
  4. Helping Import and Export Trade.

Type 9. Consumers Banks - Consumers bank is a new addition to the existing type of banks. Such banks are usually found only in advanced countries like U.S.A. and Germany. The main objective of this bank is to give loans to consumers for purchase of the durables like Motor car, television set, washing machine, furniture, etc. The consumers have to repay the loans in easy installments.