The way in which a bank is organized and operates is determined by its objectives and by the type of economy in which it conducts its business. A bank may not necessarily be in business to make profit. Central banks, for example, provide a country with a number of services, while development banks exist to increase the economic growth of a country and raise the living standard of its population. On the other hand, the aim of commercial banks is to earn profits. They therefore provide and develop services that can be sold at a price that will yield a profit.

A commercial bank which provides the same range of services year after is less likely to be successful than one which assesses changes in the demand for its products and which tries to match products to its customers’ needs. New services are constantly being introduced and developed by commercial banks, and the full-service philosophy of many banks means that they are akin to financial supermarkets, offering a wide variety of services. However, not every bank may want to offer every kind of financial service.

Many banks offer a combination of wholesale and retail banking. The former provides large-scale services to companies, government agencies and other banks. The latter mainly provides smaller-scale services to the general public. Both types of banking, however, have three essential functions, which are:

  • deposits
  • payments
  • credits

These three functions are the basis of the services offered by banks. They make it possible for banks to generate profits and achieve their operating aims.

Several factors have combined to make banking an international business. these include the growth of multinational companies and of international capital markets, the increased competition between the banks themselves, and important improvements in communications and transportation. The major banks of the world have established extensive international operations by acquiring banks in other countries, by extending their own branch network abroad and by establishing correspondent relationships with foreign banks so as to develop dynamic and rapidly changing, and their organization is of a global nature.

  • Cambridge University Press 1991

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