Historical Background of Banking
Explain the historical background of banking
Banking can be defined as the business activity of accepting and safeguarding money owned by other individuals and entities, and then lending out this money in order to earn a profit. However, with the passage of time, the activities covered by banking business have widened and now various other services are also offered by banks.
The banking services these days include issuance of debit and credit cards, providing safe custody of valuable items, lockers, ATM services and online transfer of funds across the country / world. It is well said that banking plays a silent, yet crucial part in our day-to-day lives. The banks perform financial
through maturity and risk transformations, thereby keeping the
economy’s growth engine revving.
business has done wonders for the world economy. The simple looking
method of accepting money deposits from savers and then lending the same
money to borrowers, banking activityencourages the flow of money to
productive use and investments. This in turn allows the economy to grow.
In the absence of banking business, savings would sit idle in our
homes, the entrepreneurs would not be in a position to raise the money,
ordinary people dreaming for a new car or house would not be able to
purchase cars or houses.
simple words, we can say that Bank is a financial institution that
undertakes the banking activity i.e. accepts deposits and then lends the
same to earn certain profit.
world bank is said to have been derived from an Italian word ( banco)
which means bench.the early bankers transacted their business on benches
in market places. when failed, his bench was broken up by people and
this has given rise to the word banco rotto or bankrupt..the band
industries is nearly as old as civilization.
banking began to develop between the year 1200-1600.in Italy large
banking firms were established in Florence,rome,venice and other Italian
Tanzania the first foreign bank to open its branch was the national
bank india which established its business in Zanzibar in year 1892.in
year 1915,the standard bank,barcklays bank and grand lays established
their services in the country.
bank: this is a government bank which is established to assist the
state in controlling its money. It’s also gives financial advice to the
government and acts as a banker for the commercial.
- Regulator of Currency:
The central bank is the bank of issue. It has the monopoly of note
issue. Notes issued by it circulate as legal tender money. It has its
issue department which issues notes and coins to commercial banks. Coins
are manufactured in the government mint but they are put into
circulation through the central bank.
Central banks have been following different methods of note issue in
different countries. The central bank is required by law to keep a
certain amount of gold and foreign securities against the issue of
notes. In some countries, the amount of gold and foreign securities
bears a fixed proportion, between 25 to 40 per cent of the total notes
issued. In other countries, a minimum fixed
amount of gold and foreign currencies is required to be kept against
note issue by the central bank. This system is operative in India
whereby the Reserve Bank of India is required to keep Rs 115 crores in
gold and Rs 85 crores in foreign securities. There is no limit to the
issue of notes after keeping this minimum amount of Rs 200 crores in
gold and foreign securities.
The monopoly of issuing notes vested in the central bank
ensures uniformity in the notes issued which helps in facilitating
exchange and trade within the country. It brings stability in the
monetary system and creates confidence among the public. The central
bank can restrict or expand the supply of cash according to the
requirements of the economy. Thus it provides elasticity to the monetary
system. By having a monopoly of note issue, the central bank also
controls the banking system by being the ultimate source of cash. Last
but not the least, by entrusting the monopoly of note issue to the
central bank, the government is able to earn profits from printing notes
whose cost is very low as compared with their face value.
- Banker, Fiscal Agent and Adviser to the Government:
Central banks everywhere act as bankers, fiscal agents and advisers to
their respective governments. As banker to the government, the central
bank keeps the deposits of the central and state governments and makes
payments on behalf of governments. But it does not pay interest on
governments deposits. It buys and sells foreign currencies on behalf of
the government. It keeps the stock of gold of
the government. Thus it is the custodian of government money and wealth.
As a fiscal agent, the central bank makes short-term loans to the
government for a period not exceeding 90 days. It floats loans, pays
interest on them, and finally repays them on behalf of the government.
Thus it manages the entire public debt. The central bank also advises
the government on such economic and money matters as controlling
inflation or deflation, devaluation or revaluation of the currency,
deficit financing, balance of payments, etc. As pointed out by De Kock,
“Central banks everywhere operate as bankers to the state not only
because it may be more convenient and economical to the state, but also
because of the intimate connection between public finance and monetary
- Custodian of Cash Reserves of Commercial Banks:
Commercial banks are required by law to keep reserves equal to a
certain percentage of both time and demand deposits liabilities with the
central banks. It is on the basis of these reserves that the central
bank transfers funds from one bank to another to facilitate the clearing
of cheques. Thus the central bank acts as
the custodian of the cash reserves of commercial banks and helps in
facilitating their transactions. There are many advantages of keeping
the cash reserves of the commercial banks with the central bank,
according to De Kock. In the first place, the
centralisation of cash reserves in the central bank is a source of great
strength to the banking system of a country.
Secondly, centralised cash reserves can serve as the basis of
a large and more elastic credit structure than if the same amount were
scattered among the individual banks. Thirdly, centralised
cash reserves can be utilised fully and most effectively during periods
of seasonal strains and in financial crises or emergencies. Fourthly,
by varying these cash reserves the central bank can control the credit
creation by commercial banks. Lastly, the central bank can provide
additional funds on a temporary and short term basis to commercial banks
to overcome their financial difficulties.
- Custody and Management of Foreign Exchange Reserves:
The central bank keeps and manages the foreign exchange reserves of the
country. It is an official reservoir of gold and foreign currencies. It
sells gold at fixed prices to the monetary authorities of other
countries. It also buys and sells foreign currencies at international
prices. Further, it fixes the exchange rates of the domestic currency in
terms of foreign currencies. It holds
these rates within narrow limits in keeping with its obligations as a
member of the International Monetary Fund and tries to bring stability
in foreign exchange rates. Further, it manages exchange control
operations by supplying foreign currencies to importers and persons
visiting foreign countries on business, studies, etc. in keeping with
the rules laid down by the government.
- Lender of the Last Resort:
De Kock regards this function as a sine qua non of central banking. By
granting accommodation in the form of re-discounts and collateral
advances to commercial banks, bill brokers and dealers, or other
financial institutions, the central bank acts as the lender of the last
central bank lends to such institutions in order to help them in times
of stress so as to save the financial structure of the country from
collapse. It acts as lender of the last resort through discount house on
the basis of treasury bills, government securities and bonds at “the
front door”. The other method is to give temporary accommodation to the
commercial banks or discount houses directly through the “back door”.
The difference between the two methods is that lending at the front door
is at the bank rate and in the second case at the market rate. Thus the
central bank as lender of the last resort is a big source of cash and
also influences prices and market rates.
- Clearing House for Transfer and Settlement:
As bankers’ bank, the central bank acts as a clearing house for
transfer and settlement of mutual claims of commercial banks. Since the
central bank holds reserves of commercial banks, it transfers funds from
one bank to other banks to facilitate clearing of cheques. This is done
by making transfer entries in their accounts on the principle of
book-keeping. To transfer and settle claims of one bank upon others, the
central bank operates a separate department in big cities and trade
centres. This department is known as the “clearing house” and it renders
the service free to commercial banks. When the central
bank acts as a clearing agency, it is time-saving and convenient for
the commercial banks to settle their claims at one place. It also
economises the use of money. “It is not only a means of economising cash
and capital but is also a means of testing at any time the degree of
liquidity which the community is maintaining.”
- Controller of Credit:
The most important function of the central bank is to control the
credit creation power of commercial bank in order to control
inflationary and deflationary pressures within this economy. For this
purpose, it adopts quantitative methods and qualitative methods.
Quantitative methods aim at controlling the cost and quantity of credit
by adopting bank rate policy, open market operations, and by variations
in reserve ratios of commercial banks. Qualitative methods control the
use and direction of credit. These involve selective credit controls and
direct action. By adopting such methods, the central bank tries to
influence and control credit creation by commercial banks in order to
stabilise economic activity in the country. Besides the above
noted functions, the central banks in a number of developing countries
have been entrusted with the responsibility of developing a strong
banking system to meet the expanding requirements of agriculture,
industry, trade and commerce. Accordingly, the
central banks possess some additional powers of supervision and control
over the commercial banks. They are the issuing of licences; the
regulation of branch expansion; to see that every bank maintains the
minimum paid up capital and reserves as provided by law; inspecting or
auditing the accounts of banks; to approve the appointment of chairmen
and directors of such banks in accordance with the rules and
qualifications; to control and recommend merger of weak banks in order
to avoid their failures and to protect the interest of depositors; to
recommend nationalisation of certain banks to the government in public
interest; to publish periodical reports relating to different aspects of
monetary and economic policies for the benefit of banks and the public;
and to engage in research and train banking personnel etc..
- Collection of deposits
- Making loans and advances
The primary function of commercial banks is to collect deposits from
the public. Such deposits are of three main types: current, saving and
is used to make payments. A customer can deposit and withdraw money
from the current account subject to a minimum required balance. If the
customer overdraws the account, he may be required to pay interest to
the bank. Cash credit facility is allowed in the current account.
is an interest yielding account. Deposits in savings account are used
for saving money. Savings bank account-holder is required to maintain a
minimum balance in his account to avail of cheque facilities.
are used by the customers to save money for a specific period of time,
ranging from 7 days to 3 years or more. The rate of interest is related
to the period of deposit. For example, a fixed deposit with a maturity
period of 3 years will give a higher rate of return than a deposit with a
maturity period of 1 year. But money cannot be usually withdrawn before
the due date. Some banks also impose penalty if the fixed deposits are
withdrawn before the due date. However, the customer can obtain a loan
from the bank against the fixed deposit receipt.
Commercial banks have to keep a certain portion of their deposits as
legal reserves. The balance is used to make loans and advances to the
borrowers. Individuals and firms can borrow this money and banks make
profits by charging interest on these loans. Commercial banks make
various types of loans such as:
- Loan to a person or to a firm against some collateral security;
- Cash credit (loan in installments against certain security);
- Overdraft facilities (i.e. allowing the customers to withdraw more money than what their deposits permit); and
- Loan by discounting bills of exchange..
- Agency services
- General utility services
The customers may give standing instruction to the banks to accept or
make payments on their behalf. The relationship between the banker and
customer is that of Principal and Agent. The following agency services
are provided by the bankers:
of rent, insurance premium, telephone bills, installments on hire
purchase, etc. The payments are obviously made from the customer’s
account. The banks may also collect such receipts on behalf of the
- The bank collects cheques, drafts, and bills on behalf of the customer.
- The banks can exchange domestic currency for foreign currencies as per the regulations.
banks can act as trustees / executors to their customers. For example,
banks can execute the will after the death of their clients, if so
instructed by the latter.
The commercial banks also provide various general utility services to
their customers. Some of these services are discussed below:
- Safeguarding money and valuables:
People feel safe and secured by depositing their money and valuables in
the safe custody of commercial banks. Many banks look after valuable
documents like house deeds and property, and jewellery items.
- Transferring money:Money
can be transferred from one place to another. In the same way, banks
collect funds of their customers from other banks and credit the same in
the customer’s account.
- Merchant banking: Many
commercial banks provide merchant banking services to the investors and
the firms. The merchant banking activity covers project advisory
services and loan syndication, corporate advisory services such as
advice on mergers and acquisitions, equity valuation, disinvestment,
identification of joint venture partners and so on.
- Automatic Teller Machines (ATM):
The ATMs are machines for quick withdrawal of cash. In the last 10
years, most banks have introduced ATM facilities in metropolitan and
semi-urban areas. The account holders as well as credit card holders can
withdraw cash from ATMs.
- Traveler’s cheque: A
traveler’s cheque is a printed cheque of a specific denomination. The
cheque may be purchased by a person from the bank after making the
necessary payments. The customer may carry the traveler’s cheque while
travelling. The traveler’s cheques are accepted in banks, hotels and
Credit cards are another important means of making payments. The Visa
and Master Cards are operated by the commercial banks. A person can use a
credit card to withdraw cash from ATMs as well as make payments to
originated in Europe during the 18th century with the aim of providing
access to savings products to all levels in the population. Often
associated with social good these early banks were often designed to
encourage low income people to save money and have access to banking
services. They were set up by governments or by or socially committed
groups or organisations such as with credit unions. The structure and
legislation took many different forms in different countries over the
- The advent
of internet banking at the end of the 20th century saw a new phase in
savings banks with the online savings bank that paid higher levels of
interest in return for clients only having access over the web.
A checking account offers easy access to your money for your daily
transactional needs and helps keep your cash secure. Customers can use a
debit card or checks to make purchases or pay bills. Accounts may have
different options or packages to help waive certain monthly service
fees. To determine the most economical choice, compare the benefits of
different checking packages with the services you actually need.
- Savings account:
A savings account allows you to accumulate interest on funds you’ve
saved for future needs. Interest rates can be compounded on a daily,
weekly, monthly, or annual basis. Savings accounts vary by monthly
service fees, interest rates, method used to calculate interest, and
minimum opening deposit. Understanding the account’s terms and benefits
will allow for a more informed decision on the account best suited for
- Certificate of Deposit (CD):
Certificates of deposit, or CDs, allow you to invest your money at a set
interest rate for a pre-set period of time. CDs often have higher
interest rates than traditional savings accounts because the money you
deposit is tied up for the life of the certificate – which can range
from a few months to several years. Be sure you do not need to draw on
those funds before you open a CD, as early withdrawals may have
- Money market account:
Money market accounts are similar to savings accounts, but they require
you to maintain a higher balance to avoid a monthly fee. Where savings
accounts usually have a fixed interest rate, these accounts have rates
that vary regularly based on money markets. Money market accounts can
have tiered interest rates, providing more favorable rates based on
higher balances. Some money market accounts also allow you to write
checks against your funds, but on a more limited basis.
- Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs):
IRAs, or individual retirement accounts, allow you to save
independently for your retirement. These plans are useful if your
employer doesn’t offer retirement benefits or you want to save more than
your employer-sponsored plan allows. These accounts come in two types:
the traditional IRA and Roth IRA. The Roth IRA is popular because the
funds can be withdrawn tax-free in many situations. Others prefer
traditional IRAs because these contributions are tax-deductible. Both
accounts have contribution limits and other requirements you may need to
discuss with your tax advisor before choosing your account.
is an instrument in writing containing an unconditional order,
addressed to a banker, sign by the person who has deposited money with
the banker, requiring him to pay on demand a certain sum of money only
to or to the order of certain person or to the bearer of instrument.”
- An Unconditional Order The drawer or the depositor should not lay down any condition in the cheque.
- Drawn upon A Specified Banker The drawer issues cheque directing to a particular bank having deposit in it to pay the amount of cheque.
- Signed By The Maker The cheque should be signed by the account holder.
- Amount In Words And Figures The amount of cheque should be mentioned in words and figures.
- Payable On Demand The amount of cheque must be paid by the bank as soon as it is presented at its counter.
- Bearer Cheque;When
the words “or bearer” appearing on the face of the cheque are not
cancelled, the cheque is called a bearer cheque. The bearer cheque is
payable to the person specified therein or to any other else who
presents it to the bank for payment. However, such cheques are risky,
this is because if such cheques are lost, the finder of the cheque can
collect payment from the bank.
- Order Cheque;When
the word “bearer” appearing on the face of a cheque is cancelled and
when in its place the word “or order” is written on the face of the
cheque, the cheque is called an order cheque. Such a cheque is payable
to the person specified therein as the payee, or to any one else to whom
it is endorsed (transferred).
- Uncrossed / Open Cheque;When
a cheque is not crossed, it is known as an “Open Cheque” or an
“Uncrossed Cheque”. The payment of such a cheque can be obtained at the
counter of the bank. An open cheque may be a bearer cheque or an order
- Crossed Cheque;Crossing of cheque means
drawing two parallel lines on the face of the cheque with or without
additional words like “& CO.” or “Account Payee” or “Not
Negotiable”. A crossed cheque cannot be encashed at the cash counter of a
bank but it can only be credited to the payee’s account.
- Anti-Dated Cheque;If
a cheque bears a date earlier than the date on which it is presented to
the bank, it is called as “anti-dated cheque”. Such a cheque is valid
upto three months from the date of the cheque.
- Post-Dated Cheque;If
a cheque bears a date which is yet to come (future date) then it is
known as post-dated cheque. A post dated cheque cannot be honoured
earlier than the date on the cheque.
- Stale Cheque;If a cheque is presented for payment after three months from the date of the cheque it is called stale cheque.
OF EXCHANGE :A written, unconditional order by one party (the drawer)
to another (the drawee) to pay a certain sum, either immediately (a
sight bill) or on a fixed date (a term bill), for payment of goods
and/or services received. The drawee accepts the bill by signing it,
thus converting it into a post-dated check and a binding contract.
bill of exchange is also called a draft but, while all drafts are
negotiable instruments, only “to order” bills of exchange can be
negotiated. According to the 1930 Convention Providing A Uniform Law For
Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes held in Geneva (also called
Geneva Convention) a bill of exchange contains: (1) The term bill of
exchange inserted in the body of the instrument and expressed in the
language employed in drawing up the instrument.
financial instrument that contains a written promise by one party to
pay another party a definite sum of money either on demand or at a
specified future date. A promissory note typically contains all the
terms pertaining to the indebtedness by the issuer or maker to the
note’s payee, such as the amount, interest rate, maturity date, date and
place of issuance, and issuer’s signature. The 1930 international
convention that governs promissory notes and bills of exchange also
stipulates that the term “promissory note” should be inserted in the
body of the instrument and should contain an unconditional promise to