Bank Capital

Bank Capital Definition

Bank Capital, also known as net worth of the bank is the difference between a bank’s assets and its liabilities and primarily acts as a reserve against unexpected losses and in addition, protects the creditors in case of liquidation of the bank. The bank’s assets are cash, government securities, and loans offered by banks that earn interest (Eg. Mortgage, letter of credit). The bank’s liabilities are any loans/ debt obtained by the bank.

Types of Bank Capital

Banks have to maintain a certain amount of liquid assets in correspondence to its risk-weighted assetsRisk-weighted AssetsRisk-weighted asset refers to the minimum amount that a bank or any other financial institution must maintain to avoid insolvency or bankruptcy risk. The risk associated with each bank asset is analyzed individually to figure out the total capital more. The Basel accords are banking regulations that ensure that the bank has enough capital to handle the operations and obligations.

There are three types:

Types of Bank Capital

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#1 – Tier 1 Capital

It consists of the bank’s core capital (i.e.) Shareholders’ equity and the disclosed reserves (retained earnings) less goodwillGoodwillIn accounting, goodwill is an intangible asset that is generated when one company purchases another company for a price that is greater than the sum of the company's net identifiable assets at the time of acquisition. It is determined by subtracting the fair value of the company's net identifiable assets from the total purchase more, if any. It indicates the financial health of the bank. It consists of all reserves and funds of the bank. It acts as primary support in the case of the absorption of losses. It appears in the bank’s financial statement.

Under Basel III, they need to maintain a minimum of 7% of Risk-weighted assets in Tier 1 capital. Plus, banks also have to hold an additional buffer of 2.5% of risky assets. Risk-weighted assets indicate the bank’s exposure to credit risk from the loans provided by the bank.

Tier 1 Capital / Risk-Weighted Assets = 7 % (Minimum Requirement)


Bank X has $100 billion in Tier 1 capital. Its risk-weighted assets are $1000 Billion. (i.e) the Tier 1 capital ratioThe Tier 1 Capital RatioTier 1 Capital Ratio is the ratio of Tier 1 capital (capital that is available for banks on a going concern basis) as a proportion of the bank’s risk-weighted assets. Tier 1 capital includes the bank’s shareholder’s equity, retained earnings, accumulated other comprehensive income, and contingently convertible and perpetual debt instruments of the more is 10 %, which is more than the Basel IIIBasel IIIBasel III is a regulatory framework designed to strengthen bank capital requirements while also mitigating risk. It is an extension in the Basel Accords, designed and agreed upon by members of the Basel Committee on Banking more requirement, which is 7%.

#2 – Tier 2 Capital

It consists of funds that are not disclosed in the financial statementsFinancial StatementsFinancial statements are written reports prepared by a company's management to present the company's financial affairs over a given period (quarter, six monthly or yearly). These statements, which include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flows, and Shareholders Equity Statement, must be prepared in accordance with prescribed and standardized accounting standards to ensure uniformity in reporting at all more of the bank. It includes revaluation reserveRevaluation ReserveA revaluation reserve is a non-cash reserve created to reflect the asset's true value when the market value of a certain asset category is more or less than the asset's value at which it is recorded in the books of more, hybrid capital instruments, subordinated term debt, general provisions, loan loss reserves, and undisclosed reserves, fewer investments in unconsolidated subsidiaries, and in other financial institutions.

Tier 2 capitalTier 2 CapitalTier 2 capital, also known as supplementary capital, is the second layer of bank capital requirements. It consists of hybrid instruments, general provisions and revaluation reserves. Uneasy to liquidate; Tier 2 capital is considered less more is additional capital as it is less trustworthy than the Tier 1 capital. It is difficult to measure this capital as the assets in this capital are not easy to liquidate. Banks will divide these assets into the upper level and lower level based on the liquidity of the individual assets.

Under Basel III, they need to maintain a minimum of 8% of the total capital ratio.


Bank X has $15 Billion of Tier 2 Capital. The Tier 2 capital ratio is 1.5%, which is more than the Basel III requirement.

The Total capital ratio is 11.5% (i.e) Tier 1 + Tier 2 = 10% +1.5% =11.5%. Which is more than the Basel III requirement of 10.5%? (along with the additional buffer)

#3 – Tier 3 Capital

Tier 3 Capital is tertiary capital. It is there to shield the market risk, commodity risk, and foreign currency risk. It includes more of subordinated issues, undisclosed reserves and loan loss reserve in comparison to tier 2 capital.

Tier 1 Capital must be more than the joined Tier 2 and Tier 3 Capital.


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How Bank Capital Increase or Decrease?

Bank raises financing from various sources to provide loans to the customers on which they charge interest, which is more than the cost at which they borrow. The difference is profit.

  1. Raising funds from shareholders – Banks through public issues raise capital, and the same is used for banking operations. The return to the shareholders will be in the form of dividendsDividendsDividends refer to the portion of business earnings paid to the shareholders as gratitude for investing in the company’s more and appreciation of the share value.
  2. Obtaining loans from financial institutionsFinancial InstitutionsFinancial institutions refer to those organizations which provide business services and products related to financial or monetary transactions to their clients. Some of these are banks, NBFCs, investment companies, brokerage firms, insurance companies and trust corporations. read more;
  3. Government funding the bank
  4. Term deposits, savings account;


  1. Bank capital acts as a protection to the bank from unexpected risks and losses.
  2. It is the net worth available to the equity holders.
  3. It gives assurance to the depositors and the creditors that their funds are safe, and it indicates the ability of the bank to pay for its liabilities.
  4. It funds for expansion in banking operations or for the procurement of any assets.

Difference Between Bank Capital and Bank Liquidity

Bank Liquidity acts as a measure of the bank’s assets, which is readily available to settle the dues and to manage the working capital components and business operations. Liquid assetsLiquid AssetsLiquid Assets are the business assets that can be converted into cash within a short period, such as cash, marketable securities, and money market instruments. They are recorded on the asset side of the company's balance more can be converted into cash easily. (Eg) Central bank reserves, Government bonds, etc. To manage the business operationsBusiness OperationsBusiness operations refer to all those activities that the employees undertake within an organizational setup daily to produce goods and services for accomplishing the company's goals like profit more, banks should have sufficient liquid assets (Eg) Cash withdrawals by bank account holders, Repayment of term deposits on maturity, and other financial obligations.

It is the net worth of the bank, which is the difference between the bank’s assets and liabilities. It acts as a reserve to a bank to absorb losses. Bank’s assets should be greater than the liabilities to stay solvent. Minimum levels of required bank capital need to be maintained as per the Basel requirement to manage the functioning of the bank.


The Fund structure states how the bank will finance its operations by using the available funds. It can be equity, debt, or hybrid securitiesHybrid SecuritiesHybrid securities are the combined characteristics of two or more types of securities, usually both debt and equity components. These securities allow companies and banks to borrow money from investors and facilitate a different mechanism from the bonds or stock more.

Structure of bank capital

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Bank Capital plays a key role in banking operations. The risk element is always present in banking operations, and anytime losses can happen. To protect the banks from insolvencyInsolvencyInsolvency is when the company fails to fulfill its financial obligations like debt repayment or inability to pay off the current liabilities. Such financial distress usually occurs when the entity runs into a loss or cannot generate sufficient cash more and to protect the public deposits, the banks maintain capital to protect itself against the uncertainties and losses.

The amount of capital a bank needs depends upon its operations and its associated risks, more the risk more the capital. It is also used for the expansion of banks and other operational purposes. Without proper capital, the bank may even go bankrupt. Therefore, it needs to be maintained at proper levels, and it should fall below the limits set by law.

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This has been a guide to what is Bank Capital and its definition. Here we discuss types, examples, and how does it increases or decreases along with its functions, structures. You can learn more about financing from the following articles –