Broadly speaking, banks can be classified into commercial banks and central bank. Commercial banks are those which provide banking services for profit. The central bank has the function of controlling commercial banks and various other economic activities. There are many types of commercial banks such as deposit banks, industrial banks, savings banks, agricultural banks, exchange banks, and miscellaneous banks.
The most important type of deposit banks is the commercial banks. They have connection with the commercial class of people. These banks accept deposits from the public and lend them to needy parties. Since their deposits are for short period only, these banks extend loans only for a short period. Ordinarily these banks lend money for a period between 3 to 6 months. They do not like to lend money for long periods or to invest their funds in any way in long term securities.
Industries require a huge capital for a long period to buy machinery and equipment. Industrial banks help such industrialists. They provide long term loans to industries. Besides, they buy shares and debentures of companies, and enable them to have fixed capital. Sometimes, they even underwrite the debentures and shares of big industrial concerns. The important functions of industrial banks are:
1. They accept long term deposits.
2. They meet the credit requirements of industries by extending long term loans.
3. These banks advise the industrial firms regarding the sale and purchase of shares and debentures.
The industrial banks play a vital role in accelerating industrial development. In India, after attainment of independence, several industrial banks were started with large paid up capital. They are, The Industrial Finance Corporation (I.F.C.), The State Financial Corporations (S.F.C.), Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) and Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) etc.
These banks were specially established to encourage thrift among small savers and therefore, they were willing to accept small sums as deposits. They encourage savings of the poor and middle class people. In India we do not have such special institutions, but post offices perform such functions. After nationalisation most of the nationalised banks accept the saving deposits.
Agriculture has its own problems and hence there are separate banks to finance it. These banks are organised on co-operative lines and therefore do not work on the principle of maximum profit for the shareholders. These banks meet the credit requirements of the farmers through term loans, viz., short, medium and long term loans. There are two types of agricultural banks,
(a) Agricultural Co-operative Banks, and
(b) Land Mortgage Banks. Co-operative Banks are mainly for short periods. For long periods there are Land Mortgage Banks. Both these types of banks are performing useful functions in India.
These banks finance mostly for the foreign trade of a country. Their main function is to discount, accept and collect foreign bills of exchange. They buy and sell foreign currency and thus help businessmen in their transactions. They also carry on the ordinary banking business. In India, there are some commercial banks which are branches of foreign banks.
These banks facilitate for the conversion of Indian currency into foreign currency to make payments to foreign exporters. They purchase bills from exporters and sell their proceeds to importers. They purchase and sell “forward exchange” too and thus minimise the difference in exchange rates between different periods, and also protect merchants from losses arising out of exchange fluctuations by bearing the risk. The industrial and commercial development of a country depends these days, largely upon the efficiency of these institutions.
There are certain kinds of banks which have arisen in due course to meet the specialised needs of the people. In England and America, there are investment banks whose object is to control the distribution of capital into several uses. American Trade Unions have got labour banks, where the savings of the labourers are pooled together. In London, there are the London Discount House whose business is “to go about the city seeking for bills to discount.” There are numerous types of different banks in the world, carrying on one or the other banking business.