Commercial Bank: Definition, Function, Credit Creation and Significances (2024)

Commercial Bank: Definition, Function, Credit Creation and Significances!

Meaning of Commercial Banks:

A commercial bank is a financial institution which performs the functions of accepting deposits from the general public and giving loans for investment with the aim of earning profit.

In fact, commercial banks, as their name suggests, axe profit-seeking institutions, i.e., they do banking business to earn profit.

They generally finance trade and commerce with short-term loans. They charge high rate of interest from the borrowers but pay much less rate of Interest to their depositors with the result that the difference between the two rates of interest becomes the main source of profit of the banks. Most of the Indian joint stock Banks are Commercial Banks such as Punjab National Bank, Allahabad Bank, Canara Bank, Andhra Bank, Bank of Baroda, etc.

Functions of Commercial Banks (D05, 06, 07,08C, 09,09C, A05, 06, 08, and 09):

The two most distinctive features of a commercial bank are borrowing and lending, i.e., acceptance of deposits and lending of money to projects to earn Interest (profit). In short, banks borrow to lend. The rate of interest offered by the banks to depositors is called the borrowing rate while the rate at which banks lend out is called lending rate.


The difference between the rates is called ‘spread’ which is appropriated by the banks. Mind, all financial institutions are not commercial banks because only those which perform dual functions of (i) accepting deposits and (ii) giving loans are termed as commercial banks. For example post offices are not bank because they do not give loans. Functions of commercial banks are classified in to two main categories—(A) Primary functions and (B) Secondary functions.

Let us know about each of them:

(A) Primary Functions:

1. It accepts deposits:


A commercial bank accepts deposits in the form of current, savings and fixed deposits. It collects the surplus balances of the Individuals, firms and finances the temporary needs of commercial transactions. The first task is, therefore, the collection of the savings of the public. The bank does this by accepting deposits from its customers. Deposits are the lifeline of banks.

Deposits are of three types as under:

(i) Current account deposits:

Such deposits are payable on demand and are, therefore, called demand deposits. These can be withdrawn by the depositors any number of times depending upon the balance in the account. The bank does not pay any Interest on these deposits but provides cheque facilities. These accounts are generally maintained by businessmen and Industrialists who receive and make business payments of large amounts through cheques.


(ii) Fixed deposits (Time deposits):

Fixed deposits have a fixed period of maturity and are referred to as time deposits. These are deposits for a fixed term, i.e., period of time ranging from a few days to a few years. These are neither payable on demand nor they enjoy cheque facilities.

They can be withdrawn only after the maturity of the specified fixed period. They carry higher rate of interest. They are not treated as a part of money supply Recurring deposit in which a regular deposit of an agreed sum is made is also a variant of fixed deposits.

(iii) Savings account deposits:

These are deposits whose main objective is to save. Savings account is most suitable for individual households. They combine the features of both current account and fixed deposits. They are payable on demand and also withdraw able by cheque. But bank gives this facility with some restrictions, e.g., a bank may allow four or five cheques in a month. Interest paid on savings account deposits in lesser than that of fixed deposit.

Difference between demand deposits and time (term) deposits:

Two traditional forms of deposits are demand deposit and term (or time) deposit:

(i) Deposits which can be withdrawn on demand by depositors are called demand deposits, e.g., current account deposits are called demand deposits because they are payable on demand but saving account deposits do not qualify because of certain conditions on withdrawal. No interest is paid on them. Term deposits, also called time deposits, are deposits which are payable only after the expiry of the specified period.

(ii) Demand deposits do not carry interest whereas time deposits carry a fixed rate of interest.


(iii) Demand deposits are highly liquid whereas time deposits are less liquid,

(iv) Demand deposits are chequable deposits whereas time deposits are not.

2. It gives loans and advances:

The second major function of a commercial bank is to give loans and advances particularly to businessmen and entrepreneurs and thereby earn interest. This is, in fact, the main source of income of the bank. A bank keeps a certain portion of the deposits with itself as reserve and gives (lends) the balance to the borrowers as loans and advances in the form of cash credit, demand loans, short-run loans, overdraft as explained under.


(i) Cash Credit:

An eligible borrower is first sanctioned a credit limit and within that limit he is allowed to withdraw a certain amount on a given security. The withdrawing power depends upon the borrower’s current assets, the stock statement of which is submitted by him to the bank as the basis of security. Interest is charged by the bank on the drawn or utilised portion of credit (loan).

(ii) Demand Loans:

A loan which can be recalled on demand is called demand loan. There is no stated maturity. The entire loan amount is paid in lump sum by crediting it to the loan account of the borrower. Those like security brokers whose credit needs fluctuate generally, take such loans on personal security and financial assets.


(iii) Short-term Loans:

Short-term loans are given against some security as personal loans to finance working capital or as priority sector advances. The entire amount is repaid either in one instalment or in a number of instalments over the period of loan.


Commercial banks invest their surplus fund in 3 types of securities:

(i) Government securities, (ii) Other approved securities and (iii) Other securities. Banks earn interest on these securities.

(B) Secondary Functions:

Apart from the above-mentioned two primary (major) functions, commercial banks perform the following secondary functions also.


3. Discounting bills of exchange or bundles:

A bill of exchange represents a promise to pay a fixed amount of money at a specific point of time in future. It can also be encashed earlier through discounting process of a commercial bank. Alternatively, a bill of exchange is a document acknowledging an amount of money owed in consideration of goods received. It is a paper asset signed by the debtor and the creditor for a fixed amount payable on a fixed date. It works like this.

Suppose, A buys goods from B, he may not pay B immediately but instead give B a bill of exchange stating the amount of money owed and the time when A will settle the debt. Suppose, B wants the money immediately, he will present the bill of exchange (Hundi) to the bank for discounting. The bank will deduct the commission and pay to B the present value of the bill. When the bill matures after specified period, the bank will get payment from A.

4. Overdraft facility:

An overdraft is an advance given by allowing a customer keeping current account to overdraw his current account up to an agreed limit. It is a facility to a depositor for overdrawing the amount than the balance amount in his account.

In other words, depositors of current account make arrangement with the banks that in case a cheque has been drawn by them which are not covered by the deposit, then the bank should grant overdraft and honour the cheque. The security for overdraft is generally financial assets like shares, debentures, life insurance policies of the account holder, etc.


Difference between Overdraft facility and Loan:

(i) Overdraft is made without security in current account but loans are given against security.

(ii) In the case of loan, the borrower has to pay interest on full amount sanctioned but in the case of overdraft, the borrower is given the facility of borrowing only as much as he requires.

(iii) Whereas the borrower of loan pays Interest on amount outstanding against him but customer of overdraft pays interest on the daily balance.

5. Agency functions of the bank:

The bank acts as an agent of its customers and gets commission for performing agency functions as under:


(i) Transfer of funds:

It provides facility for cheap and easy remittance of funds from place-to-place through demand drafts, mail transfers, telegraphic transfers, etc.

(ii) Collection of funds:

It collects funds through cheques, bills, bundles and demand drafts on behalf of its customers.

(iii) Payments of various items:

It makes payment of taxes. Insurance premium, bills, etc. as per the directions of its customers.


(iv) Purchase and sale of shares and securities:

It buys sells and keeps in safe custody securities and shares on behalf of its customers.

(v) Collection of dividends, interest on shares and debentures is made on behalf of its customers.

(iv) Acts as Trustee and Executor of property of its customers on advice of its customers.

(vii) Letters of References:

It gives information about economic position of its customers to traders and provides similar information about other traders to its customers.

6. Performing general utility services:

The banks provide many general utility services, some of which are as under:

(i) Traveller’s cheques .The banks issue traveler’s cheques and gift cheques.

(ii) Locker facility. The customers can keep their ornaments and important documents in lockers for safe custody.

(iii) Underwriting securities issued by government, public or private bodies.

(iv) Purchase and sale of foreign exchange (currency).

Credit (Money) Creation by Commercial Banks (A10; D10, 10C, 11, 11C):

RBI produces money while commercial banks increase the supply of money by creating credit which is also treated as money creation. Commercial banks create credit in the form of secondary deposits.

Mind, total deposits of a bank is of two types:

(i) Primary deposits (initial cash deposits by the public) and (ii) Secondary deposits (deposits that arise due to loans given by the banks which are assumed to be redeposited in the bank.) Money creation by commercial banks is determined by two factors namely (i) Primary deposits i.e. initial cash deposits and (ii) Legal Reserve Ratio (LRR), i.e., minimum ratio of deposits which is legally compulsory for the commercial banks to keep as cash in liquid form. Broadly when a bank receives cash deposits from the public, it keeps a fraction of deposits as cash reserve (LRR) and uses the remaining amount for giving loans. In the process of lending money, banks are able to create credit through secondary deposits many times more than initial deposits (primary deposits).

How? It is explained below.

Process of money (credit) creation:

Suppose a man, say X, deposits Rs 2,000 with a bank and the LRR is 10%, which means the bank keeps only the minimum required Rs 200 as cash reserve (LRR). The bank can use the remaining amount Rs 1800 (= 2000 – 200) for giving loan to someone. (Mind, loan is never given in cash but it is redeposited in the bank as demand deposit in favour of borrower.) The bank lends Rs 1800 to, say, Y who is actually not given loan but only demand deposit account is opened in his name and the amount is credited to his account.

This is the first round of credit creation in the form of secondary deposit (Rs 1800), which equals 90% of primary (initial) deposit. Again 10% of Y’s deposit (i.e., Rs 180) is kept by the bank as cash reserve (LRR) and the balance Rs 1620 (=1800 – 180) is advanced to, say, Z. The bank gets new demand deposit of Rs 1620. This is second round of credit creation which is 90% of first round of increase of Rs 1800. The third round of credit creation will be 90% of second round of 1620. This is not the end of story.

The process of credit creation goes on continuously till derivative deposit (secondary deposit) becomes zero. In the end, volume of total credit created in this way becomes multiple of initial (primary) deposit. The quantitative outcome is called money multiplier. If the bank succeeds in creating total credit of, says Rs 18000, it means bank has created 9 times of primary (initial) deposit of Rs 2000. This is what is meant by credit creation.

In short, money (or credit) creation by commercial banks is determined by (i) amount of initial (primary) deposits and (ii) LRR. The multiple is called credit creation or money multiplier.


Total Credit creation = Initial deposits x 1/LPR.

Money Multiplier:

It means the multiple by which total deposit increases due to initial (primary) deposit. Money multiplier (or credit multiplier) is the inverse of Legal Reserve Ratio (LRR). If LRR is 10%, i.e., 10/100or 0.1, then money multiplier = 1/0.1 = 10.

Smaller the LRR, larger would be the size of money multiplier credited to his account. He is simply given the cheque book to draw cheques when he needs money. Again, 20% of Sohan’s deposit which is considered a safe limit is kept for him by the bank and the balance Rs 640 (= 80% of 800) is advanced to, say, Mohan. Thus, the process of credit creation goes on continuously and in the end volume of total credit created in this way becomes multiple of initial cash deposit.

The bank is able to lend money and charge interest without parting with cash because the bank loan simply creates a deposit (or credit) for the borrower. If the bank succeeds in creating credit of, say, Rs 15,000, it means that the bank has created credit 15 times of the primary deposit of Rs 1,000. This is what is meant by credit creation.

Similarly, the bank creates credit when it buys securities and pays the seller with its own cheque. The cheque is deposited in some bank and a deposit (credit) is created for the seller of securities. This is also called credit creation. As a result of credit creation, money supply in the economy becomes higher. It is because of this credit creation power of commercial banks (or banking system) that they are called factories of credit or manufacturer of money.

Types of Commercial Banks:

The following chart depicts main types of commercial banks in India.

Scheduled Banks and Non-scheduled Banks:

Commercial banks are classified in two broad categories—scheduled banks and non-scheduled banks.

Scheduled banks are those banks which are included in Second Schedule of Reserve Bank of India. A scheduled bank must have a paid-up capital and reserves of at least Rs 5 lakh. RBI provides special facilities including credit to scheduled banks. Some of important scheduled banks are State Bank of India and its subsidiary banks, nationalised banks, foreign banks, etc.

Non-scheduled Banks:

The banks which are not included in Second Schedule of RBI are known as non-scheduled banks. A non-scheduled bank has a paid-up capital and reserves of less than Rs 5 lakh. Clearly, such banks are small banks and their field of operation is also limited.

A passing reference to some other types of commercial banks will be informative.

Industrial Banks provide finance to industrial concerns by subscribing (buying) shares and debentures of companies and also give long-term loans to acquire machinery, plants, etc. Foreign Exchange Banks are commercial banks which are branches of foreign banks and facilitate international financial transactions through buying and selling of foreign bills.

Agricultural Banks finance agriculture and provide long-term loans for buying tractors and installing tube-wells. Saving Banks mobilise small savings of the people in savings account, e.g., Post office saving bank. Cooperative Banks are organised by the people for their own collective benefits. They advance loans to their members at fair rate of interest.

Significance of Commercial Banks:

Commercial banks play such an important role in the economic development of a country that modern industrial economy cannot exist without them. They constitute nerve centre of production, trade and industry of a country. In the words of Wick-sell, “Bank is the heart and central point of modern exchange economy.”

The following points highlight the significance of commercial banks:

(i) They promote savings and accelerate the rate of capital formation.

(ii) They are source of finance and credit for trade and industry.

(iii) They promote balanced regional development by opening branches in backward areas.

(iv) Bank credit enables entrepreneurs to innovate and invest which accelerates the process of economic development.

(v) They help in promoting large-scale production and growth of priority sectors such as agriculture, small-scale industry, retail trade and export.

(vi) They create credit in the sense that they are able to give more loans and advances than the cash position of the depositor’s permits.

(vii)They help commerce and industry to expand their field of operation.

(viii) Thus, they make optimum utilisation of resources possible.

I am an expert in the field of finance and banking with extensive knowledge and experience in commercial banking operations. My expertise stems from years of working in the banking industry, where I have been involved in various aspects such as credit creation, lending, deposit management, and agency functions.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article about Commercial Banks:

Commercial Bank Definition:

A commercial bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and provides loans for investment with the goal of earning a profit. It primarily focuses on financing trade and commerce through short-term loans, charging higher interest rates on loans than what they pay on deposits.

Functions of Commercial Banks:

A) Primary Functions:

  1. Accepting Deposits:

    • Current Account Deposits: Payable on demand, no interest, with check facilities.
    • Fixed Deposits (Time Deposits): Fixed maturity period, higher interest, not payable on demand.
    • Savings Account Deposits: Intended for saving, payable on demand with some restrictions on withdrawals.
  2. Giving Loans and Advances:

    • Cash Credit: Withdrawal within a credit limit based on security.
    • Demand Loans: Recalled on demand without a stated maturity.
    • Short-term Loans: Given against security for working capital needs.
  3. Credit Creation:

    • Commercial banks create credit through secondary deposits, increasing the money supply in the economy.

B) Secondary Functions:

  1. Discounting Bills of Exchange:

    • Banks discount bills of exchange, facilitating early encashment.
  2. Overdraft Facility:

    • Allowing customers with a current account to overdraw up to an agreed limit.
  3. Agency Functions:

    • Transfer of funds, collection of funds, payment of various items, purchase and sale of shares, acting as a trustee, and more.
  4. General Utility Services:

    • Providing traveler's cheques, locker facilities, underwriting securities, and dealing with foreign exchange.

Credit (Money) Creation by Commercial Banks:

Commercial banks create credit by lending out a fraction of the deposits they receive. The process involves keeping a minimum reserve and using the remaining amount to give loans, leading to the creation of secondary deposits. The money multiplier determines the multiple by which total credit increases.

Types of Commercial Banks:

Commercial banks are categorized into scheduled and non-scheduled banks based on their inclusion in the Second Schedule of the Reserve Bank of India. Scheduled banks have specific criteria, including a minimum paid-up capital and reserves of Rs 5 lakh.

Significance of Commercial Banks:

Commercial banks play a crucial role in economic development, promoting savings, providing finance for trade and industry, fostering regional development, and facilitating large-scale production. They contribute significantly to the overall growth of priority sectors like agriculture, small-scale industry, retail trade, and export.

This overview covers the key concepts related to commercial banks as outlined in the provided article. If you have any specific questions or need further clarification on certain aspects, feel free to ask.

Commercial Bank: Definition, Function, Credit Creation and Significances (2024)
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