A commercial bank is a type of financial intermediary and a type of bank. After the Great Depression, the U.S. Congress required banks only engage in banking activities, whereas investment banks were limited to capital market activities. Since the two no longer have to be under separate ownership, some use the term “commercial bank” to refer to a bank or a division of a bank primarily dealing with deposits and loans from corporations or large businesses. Commercial bank is the term used for a normal bank to distinguish it from an investment bank. This is what people normally call a “bank”. The term “commercial” was used to distinguish it from an investment bank. Since the two types of banks no longer have to be separate companies, some have used the term “commercial bank” to refer to banks which focus mainly on companies. In some English-speaking countries outside North America, the term “trading bank” was and is used to denote a commercial bank. During the great depression and after the stock market crash of 1929, the U.S. Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act 1930 (Khambata,1996) requiring that commercial banks only engage in banking activities (accepting deposits and making loans, as well as other fee based services), whereas investment banks were limited to capital markets activities. This separation is no longer mandatory. It raises funds by collecting deposits from businesses and consumers via checkable deposits, savings deposits, and time (or term) deposits. It makes loans to businesses and consumers. It also buys corporate bonds and government bonds. Its primary liabilities are deposits and primary assets are loans and bonds. 10 Commercial banking can also refer to a bank or a division of a bank that mostly deals with deposits and loans from corporations or large businesses, as opposed to normal individual members of the public (retail banking). Origin: The name bank derives from the Italian word banco “desk/bench”, used during the Renaissance by Florentine bankers, who used to make their transactions above a desk covered by a green tablecloth (de Albuquerque, Martim, 1855). However, there are traces of banking activity even in ancient times. 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 (Matyszak and Philip, 2007). In the most basic terms, commercial banks take deposits from individual and institutional customers, which they then use to extend credit to other customers. They make money by earning more in interest from borrowers than they pay in interest to those whose deposits they accept. They’re different from investment banks and brokerages in that those kinds of institutions focus on underwriting, selling, and trading corporate and municipal securities. The Balance Sheet: A bank’s balance sheet is different from that of a typical company.
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