Commercial Bank

Commercial Bank Definition

Commercial Banks are profit-seeking financial institutions that take deposits from customers at a lower rate of interest and make business loans at a higher interest rate. In addition, they also sell various investment products and banking services that augment their profits. Examples include Citibank, Standard Chartered, ICICI, SBI, and HSBC.

How Does a Commercial Bank Earn Money

Let’s take the example of a commercial bank.

The rate of interest charged to a customer is higher than what depositors are paid by the banks. For example, consider a customer purchasing a CD with 5 years of maturity for $10,000 at an annual interest rate of 2%.

Another customer gets a term loan repayable within 5 years for $10,000 at an annual interest rate of 5%. The bank pays the depositor $1,000 over five years. It receives $2,500 over five years from the loan holder. The net interest income of $1,500 difference represents revenue for the bank. In addition to the interest income, they charge their customers fees for mortgages and other banking services. Also, when a loan is sanctioned, a fee is charged in addition to interest charges.

For example, the Origination fee on a mortgage loan is charged between 0.5% and 1% of the loan amount. If a customer receives a $100,000 mortgage loan, the bank earns $1,000 with a 1% origination fee over the life of the loan.

Commercial Bank

Functions of Commercial Bank

There are two types of functions – Primary Function and Secondary Functions.

#1 – Primary Functions

  1. Acceptance of deposit
  2. Providing loans and advances
  3. Credit creation

#2 – Secondary Functions

  1. Acts as an agent
  2. Overdraft facility
  3. Discounting bill of exchange
  4. Provides locker facility
  5. Issues traveler cheque

Products and Services

Commercial banks mainly offer loan facilities and accept deposits also. But in addition to that are saving accounts, merchant services, commercial loans, global trade services, treasury services, lending services, and other corporate-oriented products.

It offers loans for the industry like a large industrial corporation, syndicated loans, leasing, foreign trade financing, bills of exchange: deposit account services, loan services, and other possible services they offered.

Current or chequing accounts, term deposits, consumer loan and mortgages, credit and debit cards, cash management services, corporate loans, trade finance, financial market products, online banking;

Legal Requirements

A certain minimum percentage of all deposit claims are legally required to be kept as liquid cash. This is called the reserve ratio. It is 10% in the united states. Hence for every $100 deposit made in banks, a minimum $10 must be retained by the bank, and only the remaining must be invested or advanced as a loan.

Tier 1 capital measures a bank’s financial performance. It is used when a bank has to absorb losses without reducing operating capital. Under Basel III, the minimum tier 1 capital ratio is 10.5%, which is calculated by dividing the bank’s tier 1 capital by its total risk-based assets.

For example,

AAA bank has a tier 1 capital of $150 bn and risk-weighted assets worth $1000 bn. The bank’s tier 1 capital ratio is $150 bn / $1000 bn =15 %, which satisfies the Basel III requirements.

Tier 2 capital consists of unsecured subordinated debt and its surplus with the maturity of lower than five years fewer investments in non-consolidated financial institutions. The total regulatory capital comprises tier 1 and tier 2 capital.

In 2019, under Basel III, the minimum total capital ratio was 12.9%.(minimum tier 2 capital ratio is 2% and 10.9% for the tier 1 capital ratio). For example, AAA bank reported tier 2 capital of $30 billion. Its tier 2 capital ratio for the quarter was $30 billion / $1 trillion = 3%.


The following are the roles –

  • Implementation of monetary policy
  • Encouragement of good or fair class of industries
  • Regional growth
  • Encourage industrial growth
  • The gratification of socio-economic intention
  • Increase the rate of fund formation
  • Provision of finance and credit
  • Support to rural areas
  • Innovations
  • Developing entrepreneurship
  • Help customers

 Commercial Banking vs. Retail Banking

The main difference between a commercial and retail bank is that commercial bank does not do transactions directly with consumers they firstly concerned with collecting deposits and then lending to business but the retail bank does transactions directly with consumers.

The commercial bank provides banking products and services to the corporation, any institutes, or sometimes the government. In comparison, retail banking offers banking products and services to individual customers.

Points to Note

Most of the commercial banks today operate exclusively online, wherein every transaction is carried out electronically without the need to visit the branch office of any bank.

These “virtual” banks are able to increase their operating profit margin as they usually have lower service and, in turn, have the ability to pay a higher interest rate to depositors. They do not have to maintain physical branches, and hence all the ancillary charges such as rent, property taxes, and utilities will not be incurred.

Now a days few commercial banks include investment banking as one of the divisions. Example Citibank and JPMorgan Chase. But there are banks such as ally, which still operate only on the commercial aspect of the business.

Following are the items where commercial banks need to continuously innovate to survive:

  • Digital Experiences, Automation, Data Analytics.
  • Payment Speed, Quicker Response to Market Changes, and the Promise of Artificial Intelligence


Banks are highly regulated, but still, they do get fail. When they fail, it becomes costly. In the modern-day, commercial banks are not just dealers but act as leaders in economic development.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to Commercial Bank and its definition. Here we discuss the functions of a commercial bank with examples, roles, and its differences with retail banking. You can learn more about accounting from the following articles –

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