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Types of Banking

Last Updated : 31 Jan, 2024
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What is Banking?

Banking denotes the network of financial institutions comprising commercial banks, credit unions, savings banks, and other financial services firms. The banking sector is highly regulated to ensure the stability of national currencies and economies. It serves as the backbone for personal and commercial financial activities, fueling spending, investment, business operations, and economic growth. Banking innovations, like online and mobile banking, have also helped individuals and organizations transform the way they manage their finances. The purpose of banking is to facilitate the cash flow in the economy. Hence, they offer a distinct variety of services to individuals, firms, and governments. The services include accepting deposits, offering checking and savings accounts, issuing loans and lines of credit, processing financial transactions, and providing investment products like certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts. Beyond accepting deposits and issuing loans, modern banks will play a pivotal role in the global financial system by facilitating domestic and international payments, permitting electronic funds transfers, issuing credit and debit cards, offering wealth management services, and more.

Geeky Takeaways:

  • Banking serves as a fundamental component of personal and commercial financial activities, driving economic functions.
  • Banking has revolutionized the management of finances for individuals and organizations.
  • The primary purpose of banking is to facilitate the smooth flow of cash within the economy.
  • Banking will facilitate domestic and international payments, electronic funds transfers, and the issuing of credit and debit cards.

Types of Banking

1. Retail Banking

Retail banking, also known as personal banking, operates directly with individual customers, addressing their personal financial needs. These banks play a pivotal role in collecting customer deposits, which serve as a significant source for facilitating loans to retail clients. Key products in retail banking encompass deposits, credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, and various savings and investment options. They focus on delivering a broad range of consumer-oriented financial services, providing convenience through branches, online platforms, and ATMs.

Key Features:

  • Mass Market Services: Retail banks focus on providing services to a broad consumer base, including individuals and small businesses.
  • Convenience: Accessibility is prioritized through local bank branches and user-friendly online banking apps.
  • Personalized Offerings: Tailored financial solutions cater to the diverse needs of individual customers and small enterprises, promoting a personalized banking experience.


Local Bank Branches: These are physical branches accessible to the local population, providing face-to-face banking services and assistance.

Online Banking Apps: These include prominent online platforms that offer convenient and user-friendly interfaces for customers to manage their finances digitally.

2. Investment Banking

Investment banks specialize in sophisticated financial services for corporations and institutional investors. Their comprehensive offerings include managing investment portfolios, executing stock trades, overseeing securities and bonds, providing corporate finance advisory services, facilitating merger and acquisition transactions, and managing assets. Investment banks are integral to capital markets, contributing to the efficient functioning of financial markets and enabling companies to raise capital for growth and development.

Key Features:

  • Consultative Services: Investment banks offer strategic advisory services, providing clients with expert consultation on complex financial transactions, mergers, and acquisitions.
  • Large Transactions: Specializing in managing substantial financial transactions, investment banks facilitate capital raising and handle intricate deals for large corporations and institutional investors.
  • Intricate Deals: Investment banks excel at navigating intricate financial transactions, such as underwriting securities and providing comprehensive financial solutions.


Goldman Sachs: It is a global investment banking powerhouse known for its expertise in advisory services, underwriting, and complex financial transactions.

Morgan Stanley: Renowned for its role in investment banking, Morgan Stanley excels at managing substantial transactions and providing strategic financial advice.

3. Cooperative Banking

Cooperative banks stand out as member-owned and member-operated entities, emphasizing community-based financial services. These banks offer a diverse range of financial products, including savings and loans, and operate with a cooperative structure where members are both customers and owners. Cooperative banks often foster a strong sense of community and social responsibility, contributing to local economic development.

Key Features:

  • Customer Ownership: Cooperative banks operate as member-owned entities, fostering a sense of community ownership where members have a stake in the institution.
  • Focus on Community Development: Emphasizing community-focused initiatives, cooperative banks actively contribute to the economic and social development of the areas they serve.
  • Tailored Financial Services: Cooperative banks design financial products and services to meet the specific needs of their member-owners, ensuring a personalized approach to banking.


Credit Unions: They are member-owned financial cooperatives that focus on community-oriented services that foster a sense of ownership among members.

Building Societies: These financial institutions are owned by their members, emphasizing community development and providing a range of financial services.

4. Wholesale Banking

Wholesale banking, often referred to as capital markets, caters to corporate and institutional clients with specialized financial services. These services encompass corporate lending, sales and trading of financial instruments, underwriting of securities, and facilitating complex financial transactions. Wholesale banks play a crucial role in facilitating capital flow and supporting the financial needs of large enterprises and institutional investors.

Key Features:

  • Bulk Transactions: Focus on handling large-scale transactions and providing financial services tailored for institutional clients.
  • Sophisticated Products: Offering advanced financial products such as trade financing, cash management, and foreign exchange services.
  • Institutional Focus: Catering exclusively to corporate and institutional clients with specialized financial requirements.


Transaction Banking Divisions within Banks: These are specialized units within larger banks that handle bulk transactions, offering sophisticated financial products and services tailored for institutional clients.

5. Universal Banking

Universal banks provide a holistic suite of financial services, seamlessly combining retail, commercial, and investment banking. This integrated approach allows them to serve a diverse clientele, offering tailored solutions for individual customers, small businesses, and large corporations. Universal banks leverage their comprehensive capabilities to provide end-to-end financial solutions, ranging from basic banking services to complex investment strategies.

Key Features:

  • Broad Spectrum of Services: Comprehensive offerings cover retail, corporate, investment, and wealth management services.
  • Comprehensive Clientele: Serving both individual and corporate clients, providing a one-stop shop for diverse financial needs.
  • Integrated Banking Solutions: Offering an integrated approach with a wide array of financial products and services.


UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland): It is a global financial services giant offering a comprehensive range of banking services, including retail, corporate, and investment banking, as well as wealth management.

Citigroup: It is a multinational financial conglomerate that provides a diverse array of financial services globally, from basic banking to complex investment strategies.

6. Rural Banking

Rural banks specialize in meeting the unique financial needs of rural communities. Beyond traditional banking services, they often play a vital role in promoting financial literacy, providing agricultural financing, and supporting local economic development. Rural banks contribute to fostering financial inclusion by extending services to underserved rural areas, facilitating economic growth and resilience in these communities.

Key Features:

  • Microcredit Initiatives: Providing small-scale financial support to rural populations and promoting economic activities.
  • Financial Inclusion: Focusing on extending basic banking services to underserved rural and semi-urban areas.
  • Relaxed Eligibility Norms: Adapting eligibility criteria to accommodate the specific economic conditions of rural populations.


Regional Rural Banks: These financial institutions are specifically designed to cater to the financial needs of rural areas, providing services to promote economic development.

Microfinance Lenders: They are organizations offering small-scale financial support to individuals in rural populations and often focusing on financial inclusion and community development.

7. Commercial Banking

Commercial banks engage in a wide array of financial services, acting as financial intermediaries between depositors and borrowers. These services include accepting deposits, extending various types of loans, providing checking and savings accounts, offering credit and loan facilities to businesses, and facilitating international trade finance. Commercial banks are foundational to the economy, supporting both individual and business financial needs through diverse banking products and services.

Key Features:

  • Tailored Services: Offering customized financial solutions to meet the unique needs of commercial clients.
  • Focus on Business Accounts: Concentrating on serving business accounts and medium enterprises.
  • Facilitation of Business Operations: Assisting commercial clients with loans and other financial services to support their business operations and growth.


Commercial Banking Units within Retail Banks: These are specialized divisions within retail banks that concentrate on serving business accounts and medium enterprises, providing tailored financial solutions to support their operations and growth.

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