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By Best Tài Chính

Retail Banking

Introduction to Retail Banking

Generally, a bank caters to consumers of various stature including corporate clients, institutional clients, government and the everyday small banking consumer who only looks for an account for his salary income or savings and this is the target audience of retail banking segment of any bank which provides products suitable for the need of such clients.


Corporate or institutional clients have different kinds of banking requirements such as a requirement for an overdraft facility or a line of credit. They also have higher value transactions and therefore, the banks offer the services which suit their needs.

However, the retail clients have lower transaction value and need accounts for salary income, savings account, term deposits loans, and so on. Therefore the products that they need are different and these fall under the retail banking domain. At times, retail banking is also referred to as consumer banking.

How does it work?

Generally, consumers use the banking services provided by the branch situated in their own city or the nearest locality. There are two types of clients of retail banks. One who needs to put their extra money safely and earn some interest over the same and the second who need a little more money than they have for their upcoming expenditures.

The first kind of clients is known as depositors. They deposit money in their bank accounts. The bank uses this money to provide loans to the second type of clients who need loans. No bank can loan out the entire deposit money they receive. Every central bank has a reserve requirement and only the balance amount can be loaned out. This is so because the depositors have a right to withdraw their own money at any point of time and the bank has to maintain that level of liquidity. If the bank doesn’t then it might have to borrow the shortfall and thus pay interest on the same which will be costlier than to hold the amount available.

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When the bank loans out the money, it charges interest. This interest is higher than what it pays to the depositors. The difference between the two rates of interest is what the bank keeps to itself. After all its expenses are met, the remaining amount becomes its profit.

Examples of Retail Banking

Most banks provide different kinds of banking services so retail banking is one of their functions while they also provide banking solutions to corporate and institutions. However, all such functions are generally kept separate for the proper functioning of banks.

Some of the known names of retail banks are:

  • JPMC
  • Citi bank
  • Bank of America
  • Wells Fargo
  • Standard Chartered
  • HSBC

Products offered by Retail Banking

  • Savings account: These accounts help consumers save the excess money they have and earn interest on them. These have limits on withdrawal according to the regulations of the country in which the bank functions. At times these accounts don’t allow cheque writing facility and therefore can’t be used too freely for making payments
  • Transactional account: This is the account which allows withdrawal at any time the depositor demands, and also allows the cheque writing facility. Therefore this account is a little more liquid as compared to the savings account. It too earns interest on the amount it holds and for the time such amount remains in it. These are known as checking account in the US and current account in the UK
  • Term deposit accounts: These are accounts that hold term deposits or fixed deposits and generate a higher rate of return for the consumers. The deposit made in this can’t be withdrawn before the term of the deposit ends otherwise the consumer has to pay a penalty on the same.
  • Plastic money: These include Debit, ATM, and Credit cards. Credit cards allow the consumer to spend more than they have in their accounts and charge interest on the same when the consumer pays for the bill of the same. The debit card allows the consumer to spend up to the amount held in the accounts and nothing in excess of the same. ATM cards help the consumers to withdraw the money from ATM kiosks placed at different points in a locality for ease and convenience so that the consumer doesn’t have to visit the bank every time he has to withdraw money.
  • Loans & Credits: There are many different kinds of loan products such as those for homes, cars, education, etc. These are taken by consumers when they need them and repaid over a long period of time in periodic installments from the income generated in this period. The banks charge interest on these loans and so the consumer benefits from the value of time created and the bank benefits from the interest.
  • Investment services: Most banks these days provide Demat accounts also for investing in the securities market. As now the investments take place in the dematerialized form so such accounts are mandatory for those willing to invest in the market.
  • Online services: Netbanking or mobile banking are important products in today’s world of technology because consumers get the convenience of banking at any hour from their home and transfer money at ease.
  • Locker services: The banks also provide locker system for consumers to keep their valuables for which they charge rent from the consumers
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Advantages and Disadvantages

Below are the advantages and disadvantages:


Let us see some advantages mentioned below:

  • It helps the consumer save for future consumption and therefore it is a way of securing their future by making the money available when it is actually needed.
  • It generates income for the consumers through interest which otherwise might not be possible
  • It channelizes funds to those who need it at the time they need it by indirectly connecting a lender to a borrower, however, they are not liable to each other. The bank acts as a counterparty to both the lending and the borrowing transaction and it is the duty of the bank to collect from the borrowers and payout to the depositors.
  • It provides funds for investment and keeps the economy moving.


Let us see some disadvantages mentioned below:

  • These days cybercrime is one of the biggest challenges faced by most banks and consumers. Card skimming and fraudulent transactions in the account are becoming more and more common which leads to consumers losing money and banks trying their best to compensate them. Such problems reduce consumer’s confidence in the banking system.
  • At times when banks have very high NPAs, the risk of the banking system failing is very high. One such case recently happened in India where the PMC bank failed and the depositors could not withdraw their own money. Strict regulation on banks is required to avoid such instances from becoming too common.


So we know that retail banking is the banking for the everyday consumer, who have smaller value transactions and have different banking needs as compared to corporates or institutions. Retail banking is one of the most used banking functions as the number of consumers for this segment is much higher. There are many different kinds of offerings of these banks which keep evolving with time. Even though banking is an integral part of the economy, it is not free from flaws. With rising NPAs and cybercrime incidents, banking is becoming more insecure and the task of keeping money safe is becoming difficult by the day.

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This is a guide to Retail Banking. Here we discuss an introduction to Retail Banking with detail explanation, working, examples product offer with advantages and disadvantages. You can also go through our other related articles to learn more –

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