commercial bank


commercial bank
a bank specializing in checking accounts and short-term loans.
[1905-10]

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Bank that makes loans to businesses, consumers, and nonbusiness institutions.

Early commercial banks were limited to accepting deposits of money or valuables for safekeeping and verifying coinage or exchanging one jurisdiction's coins for another's. By the 17th century most of the essentials of modern banking, including foreign exchange, the payment of interest, and the granting of loans, were in place. It became common for individuals and firms to exchange funds through bankers with a written draft, the precursor to the modern check. Because a commercial bank is required to hold only a fraction of its deposits as cash reserves, it can use some of the money deposited by its customers to extend loans. Commercial banks also offer a range of other services, including savings accounts, safe-deposit boxes, and trust services. See also bank; central bank; investment bank; savings bank.

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      bank with the power to make loans that, at least in part, eventually become new demand deposits. Because a commercial bank is required to hold only a fraction of its deposits as reserves, it can use some of the money on deposit to extend loans. When a borrower receives a loan, his checking account is credited with the amount of the loan; total demand deposits are thus increased until the loan is repaid. As a group, then, commercial banks are able to expand or contract the money supply by creating new demand deposits.

      The name commercial bank was first used to indicate that the loans extended were short-term loans to businesses, though loans later were extended to consumers, governments, and other nonbusiness institutions as well. In general, the assets of commercial banks tend to be more liquid and carry less risk than the assets held by other financial intermediaries. Most commercial banks offer a variety of services to their customers, including savings deposits, safe-deposit boxes, and trust services.

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Universalium. 2010.

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