A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits and channels those deposits into lending activities. Banks primarily provide financial services to customers while enriching investors. Government restrictions on financial activities by banks vary over time and location. Banks are important players in financial markets and offer services such as investment funds and loans. In some countries such as Germany, banks have historically owned major stakes in industrial corporations while in other countries such as the United States banks are prohibited from owning non-financial companies. In Japan, banks are usually the nexus of a cross-share holding entity known as the keiretsu. In France, bancassurance is prevalent, as most banks offer insurance services (and now real estate services) to their clients.
The level of government regulation of the banking industry varies widely, with countries such as Iceland, having relatively light regulation of the banking sector, and countries such as China having a wide variety of regulations but no systematic process that can be followed typical of a communist system.
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The name bank derives from the Italian word banco "desk/bench", used during the Renaissance by Jewish Florentine 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, which indicates that the word 'bank' might not necessarily come from the word 'banco'.
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 earliest evidence of money-changing activity is depicted on a silver drachm coin from ancient Hellenic colony Trapezus on the Black Sea, modern Trabzon, c. 350–325 BC, presented in the British Museum in London. The coin shows a banker's table (trapeza) laden with coins, a pun on the name of the city.
In fact, even today in Modern Greek the word Trapeza (Τράπεζα) means both a table and a bank.
Banks act as payment agents by conducting checking or current accounts for customers, paying cheques drawn by customers on the bank, and collecting cheques deposited to customers' current accounts. Banks also enable customer payments via other payment methods such as telegraphic transfer, EFTPOS, and ATM.
Banks borrow money by accepting funds deposited on current accounts, by accepting term deposits, and by issuing debt securities such as banknotes and bonds. Banks lend money by making advances to customers on current accounts, by making installment loans, and by investing in marketable debt securities and other forms of money lending.
Banks provide almost all payment services, and a bank account is considered indispensable by most businesses, individuals and governments. Non-banks that provide payment services such as remittance companies are not normally considered an adequate substitute for having a bank account.
Banks borrow most funds from households and non-financial businesses, and lend most funds to households and non-financial businesses, but non-bank lenders provide a significant and in many cases adequate substitute for bank loans, and money market funds, cash management trusts and other non-bank financial institutions in many cases provide an adequate substitute to banks for lending savings to.
Currently in most jurisdictions commercial banks are regulated by government entities and require a special bank licence to operate.
Usually the definition of the business of banking for the purposes of regulation is extended to include acceptance of deposits, even if they are not repayable to the customer's order—although money lending, by itself, is generally not included in the definition.
Unlike most other regulated industries, the regulator is typically also a participant in the market, i.e. a government-owned (central) bank. Central banks also typically have a monopoly on the business of issuing banknotes. However, in some countries this is not the case. In the UK, for example, the Financial Services Authority licences banks, and some commercial banks (such as the Bank of Scotland) issue their own banknotes in addition to those issued by the Bank of England, the UK government's central bank.
The definition of a bank varies from country to country.
In most English common law jurisdictions there is a Bills of Exchange Act that codifies the law in relation to negotiable instruments, including cheques, and this Act contains a statutory definition of the term banker: banker includes a body of persons, whether incorporated or not, who carry on the business of banking' (Section 2, Interpretation). Although this definition seems circular, it is actually functional, because it ensures that the legal basis for bank transactions such as cheques does not depend on how the bank is organised or regulated.
The business of banking is in many English common law countries not defined by statute but by common law, the definition above. In other English common law jurisdictions there are statutory definitions of the business of banking or banking business. When looking at these definitions it is important to keep in mind that they are defining the business of banking for the purposes of the legislation, and not necessarily in general. In particular, most of the definitions are from legislation that has the purposes of entry regulating and supervising banks rather than regulating the actual business of banking. However, in many cases the statutory definition closely mirrors the common law one. Examples of statutory definitions:
Since the advent of EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale), direct credit, direct debit and internet banking, the cheque has lost its primacy in most banking systems as a payment instrument. This has led legal theorists to suggest that the cheque based definition should be broadened to include financial institutions that conduct current accounts for customers and enable customers to pay and be paid by third parties, even if they do not pay and collect cheques.
Bank statements are accounting records produced by banks under the various accounting standards of the world. Under GAAP and IFRS there are two kinds of accounts: debit and credit. Credit accounts are Revenue, Equity and Liabilities. Debit Accounts are Assets and Expenses. This means you credit a credit account to increase its balance, and you debit a debit account to decrease its balance.
This also means you debit your savings account every time you deposit money into it (and the account is normally in deficit), while you credit your credit card account every time you spend money from it (and the account is normally in credit).
However, if you read your bank statement, it will say the opposite—that you credit your account when you deposit money, and you debit it when you withdraw funds. If you have cash in your account, you have a positive (or credit) balance; if you are overdrawn, you have a negative (or deficit) balance.
The reason for this is that the bank, and not you, has produced the bank statement. Your savings might be your assets, but the bank's liability, so they are credit accounts (which should have a positive balance). Conversely, your loans are your liabilities but the bank's assets, so they are debit accounts (which should also have a positive balance).
Where bank transactions, balances, credits and debits are discussed below, they are done so from the viewpoint of the account holder—which is traditionally what most people are used to seeing.
The commercial role of banks is not limited to banking, and includes:
The economic functions of banks include:
Banking law is based on a contractual analysis of the relationship between the bank (defined above) and the customer—defined as any entity for which the bank agrees to conduct an account.
The law implies rights and obligations into this relationship as follows:
These implied contractual terms may be modified by express agreement between the customer and the bank. The statutes and regulations in force within a particular jurisdiction may also modify the above terms and/or create new rights, obligations or limitations relevant to the bank-customer relationship.
The requirements for the issue of a bank licence vary between jurisdictions but typically include:
Banks offer many different channels to access their banking and other services:
Banks' activities can be divided into retail banking, dealing directly with individuals and small businesses; business banking, providing services to mid-market business; corporate banking, directed at large business entities; private banking, providing wealth management services to high net worth individuals and families; and investment banking, relating to activities on the financial markets. Most banks are profit-making, private enterprises. However, some are owned by government, or are non-profit organizations.
Central banks are normally government-owned and charged with quasi-regulatory responsibilities, such as supervising commercial banks, or controlling the cash interest rate. They generally provide liquidity to the banking system and act as the lender of last resort in event of a crisis.
Assets of the largest 1,000 banks in the world grew by 6.8% in the 2008/2009 financial year to a record $96.4 trillion while profits declined by 85% to $115bn. Growth in assets in adverse market conditions was largely a result of recapitalisation. EU banks held the largest share of the total, 56% in 2008/2009, down from 61% in the previous year. Asian banks' share increased from 12% to 14% during the year, while the share of US banks increased from 11% to 13%. Fee revenue generated by global investment banking totalled $66.3bn in 2009, up 12% on the previous year. 
The United States has the most banks in the world in terms of institutions (7,085 at the end of 2008) and possibly branches (82,000). This is an indicator of the geography and regulatory structure of the USA, resulting in a large number of small to medium-sized institutions in its banking system. As of Nov 2009, China's top 4 banks have in excess of 67,000 branches (ICBC:18000+, BOC:12000+,CCB:13000+,ABC:24000+) with an additional 140 smaller banks with an undetermined number of branches. Japan had 129 banks and 12,000 branches. In 2004, Germany, France, and Italy each had more than 30,000 branches—more than double the 15,000 branches in the UK.
Banks are susceptible to many forms of risk which have triggered occasional systemic crises. These include liquidity risk (where many depositors may request withdrawals beyond available funds), credit risk (the chance that those who owe money to the bank will not repay it), and interest rate risk (the possibility that the bank will become unprofitable, if rising interest rates force it to pay relatively more on its deposits than it receives on its loans).
Banking crises have developed many times throughout history, when one or more risks have materialized for a banking sector as a whole. Prominent examples include the bank run that occurred during the Great Depression, the U.S. Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Japanese banking crisis during the 1990s, and the subprime mortgage crisis in the 2000s. Usually, the governments bail out the bank through rescue plan or individual public intervention.
In the United States, the banking industry is a highly regulated industry with detailed and focused regulators. All banks with FDIC-insured deposits have the FDIC as a regulator; however, for examinations, the Federal Reserve is the primary federal regulator for Fed-member state banks; the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) is the primary federal regulator for national banks; and the Office of Thrift Supervision, or OTS, is the primary federal regulator for thrifts. State non-member banks are examined by the state agencies as well as the FDIC. National banks have one primary regulator—the OCC.
Each regulatory agency has their own set of rules and regulations to which banks and thrifts must adhere.
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) was established in 1979 as a formal interagency body empowered to prescribe uniform principles, standards, and report forms for the federal examination of financial institutions. Although the FFIEC has resulted in a greater degree of regulatory consistency between the agencies, the rules and regulations are constantly changing.
In addition to changing regulations, changes in the industry have led to consolidations within the Federal Reserve, FDIC, OTS and OCC. Offices have been closed, supervisory regions have been merged, staff levels have been reduced and budgets have been cut. The remaining regulators face an increased burden with increased workload and more banks per regulator. While banks struggle to keep up with the changes in the regulatory environment, regulators struggle to manage their workload and effectively regulate their banks. The impact of these changes is that banks are receiving less hands-on assessment by the regulators, less time spent with each institution, and the potential for more problems slipping through the cracks, potentially resulting in an overall increase in bank failures across the United States.
The changing economic environment has a significant impact on banks and thrifts as they struggle to effectively manage their interest rate spread in the face of low rates on loans, rate competition for deposits and the general market changes, industry trends and economic fluctuations. It has been a challenge for banks to effectively set their growth strategies with the recent economic market. A rising interest rate environment may seem to help financial institutions, but the effect of the changes on consumers and businesses is not predictable and the challenge remains for banks to grow and effectively manage the spread to generate a return to their shareholders.
The management of the banks’ asset portfolios also remains a challenge in today’s economic environment. Loans are a bank’s primary asset category and when loan quality becomes suspect, the foundation of a bank is shaken to the core. While always an issue for banks, declining asset quality has become a big problem for financial institutions. There are several reasons for this, one of which is the lax attitude some banks have adopted because of the years of “good times.” The potential for this is exacerbated by the reduction in the regulatory oversight of banks and in some cases depth of management. Problems are more likely to go undetected, resulting in a significant impact on the bank when they are recognized. In addition, banks, like any business, struggle to cut costs and have consequently eliminated certain expenses, such as adequate employee training programs.
Banks also face a host of other challenges such as aging ownership groups. Across the country, many banks’ management teams and board of directors are aging. Banks also face ongoing pressure by shareholders, both public and private, to achieve earnings and growth projections. Regulators place added pressure on banks to manage the various categories of risk. Banking is also an extremely competitive industry. Competing in the financial services industry has become tougher with the entrance of such players as insurance agencies, credit unions, check cashing services, credit card companies, etc.
One source of deposits for banks is brokers who deposit large sums of money on the behalf of investors. This money will generally go to the banks which offer the most favorable terms, often better than those offered local depositors. It is possible for a bank to be engaged in business with no local deposits at all, all funds being brokered deposits. Accepting a significant quantity of such deposits, or "hot money" as it is sometimes called, puts a bank in a difficult and sometimes risky position, as the funds must be lend or invested in a way that yields a return sufficient to pay the high interest being paid on the brokered deposits. This may result in risky decisions and even in eventual failure of the bank. Banks which failed during 2008 and 2009 in the United States during the global financial crisis had, on average, four times more brokered deposits as a percent of their deposits than the average bank. Such deposits, combined with risky real estate investments, factored into the Savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. Regulation of brokered deposits is opposed by banks on the grounds that the practice can be a source of external funding to growing communities with insufficient local deposits.
A bank generates a profit from the differential between the level of interest it pays for deposits and other sources of funds, and the level of interest it charges in its lending activities. This difference is referred to as the spread between the cost of funds and the loan interest rate. Historically, profitability from lending activities has been cyclical and dependent on the needs and strengths of loan customers. In recent history, investors have demanded a more stable revenue stream and banks have therefore placed more emphasis on transaction fees, primarily loan fees but also including service charges on an array of deposit activities and ancillary services (international banking, foreign exchange, insurance, investments, wire transfers, etc.). Lending activities, however, still provide the bulk of a commercial bank's income.
In the past 20 years American banks have taken many measures to ensure that they remain profitable while responding to increasingly changing market conditions. First, this includes the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which allows banks again to merge with investment and insurance houses. Merging banking, investment, and insurance functions allows traditional banks to respond to increasing consumer demands for "one-stop shopping" by enabling cross-selling of products (which, the banks hope, will also increase profitability). Second, they have expanded the use of risk-based pricing from business lending to consumer lending, which means charging higher interest rates to those customers that are considered to be a higher credit risk and thus increased chance of default on loans. This helps to offset the losses from bad loans, lowers the price of loans to those who have better credit histories, and offers credit products to high risk customers who would otherwise been denied credit. Third, they have sought to increase the methods of payment processing available to the general public and business clients. These products include debit cards, prepaid cards, smart cards, and credit cards. They make it easier for consumers to conveniently make transactions and smooth their consumption over time (in some countries with underdeveloped financial systems, it is still common to deal strictly in cash, including carrying suitcases filled with cash to purchase a home). However, with convenience of easy credit, there is also increased risk that consumers will mismanage their financial resources and accumulate excessive debt. Banks make money from card products through interest payments and fees charged to consumers and transaction fees to companies that accept the cards. Helps in making profit and economic development as a whole.
Quotes about the business of Banks: institutions where one can place and borrow money and take care of financial affairs.
="">See Bank (disambiguation) for articles sharing the title Bank.
BANK,2 known also as "Polish Bank" and "Russian Bank" a card-game. An ordinary pack is used. Five or six players is a convenient number. Each contributes an arranged stake to the pool. The dealer gives three cards to each player and turns up another; if this is not lower than an eight (ace is lowest) he goes on till such a card is exposed. The player on the dealer's left, without touching or looking at his cards, can bet the amount of the pool, or any part of it, that among his cards is one that is higher (of the same suit) than the turn-up. If he wins, he takes the amount from the pool; if he loses, he pays it to the pool. Each player does the same in turn, the dealer last. Whenever the pool is exhausted, a fresh stake is put into the pool. After a round is over the deal passes. No player may touch his cards until he has made his bet; the penalty is a fine to the pool of twice the stake, and the loss of his right to bet during that round.
Bank f. (plural Bänke)
Bank f. (plural: Banken)
A bank is a place where money can be saved or loaned out from. Someone's money can be placed in the bank for safe keeping. Or the bank can give out loans to people for an agreement to pay the bank back at a later time, usually with interest. The people who run a bank are called bankers.
Banks also can use the money they have from deposits to invest in businesses in order to make more money.
In most of the modern world a bank settled by the government but independent of the state administrators controls how much money appears at a time. Such a kind of bank is called a national bank. A national bank ordinarily issues bills and/or coins. In some countries issuing money is the task of the government.
The word bank comes from an Italian word banco, meaning a bench, since Italian merchants in the medieval talked on borrowing and lending money between each others beside a bank and money was placed on that bank.
Traces of the Phoenician civilization showed a form of currency exchange among troc exchanges; it is believed that merchants from Alexandria deposited their "valuables" in Phoenicia.