A bank is a financial institution whose main business is to accept deposits and lend money. Banking is the business of receiving deposits and lending money in order to earn a profit. Banks and commercial banking transactions are governed by federal and state laws. The federal statute that governs banks is the Uniform Commercial Code. Apart from the UCC, there are administrative rules that govern banking institutions.
Banks can be divided into several types depending up on the functions they perform. They include: commercial banks, small business banks, investment banks, private banks, and non- profit banks.
Individuals and other entities including partnership firms and companies can open an account with a bank by filing an application form, an account acceptance form and such other legal forms. Bank accounts of customers show all transactions made with the bank during a particular period. In entities like partnership firms and companies, designated persons will be authorized to operate the bank account. They will be authorized using an authorization form.
Banks offer many forms of services to account owners and outsiders. The primary service of a bank is acceptance of money from account owners as deposits and lending of money in the form of loans. Banks offer other services including discounting commercial paper and buying and selling bills of exchange.
For transferring money in one's account, an account holder can make a written order on that account in the form of a check. Banks also exchange loans for promissory notes. Apart from these negotiable instruments, banks may issue a letter of credit granting authorization on drafts and offer guarantee of payment of drafts on a specified amount of money. A person can legally assign all or part of the proceeds from a letter of credit to a third party. For this, the beneficiary has to file an application or an assignment letter with the bank.
A payroll account is a type of bank account in which fund transfers of an employer's wages, salary, and other compensations are made online on a recurring basis. For online salary transfer, payroll forms must be filed with the bank.
Many banks are offering special products and programs to attract small businesses. Generally, banks are reluctant to lend money on credit to small businesses but there are government agencies, like the Small Business Administration, that work with banks to lend money to small business owners.
Banks have to maintain various business forms or bank statements according to various accounting standards. Such statements or forms include balance sheets, various journals, expense documents, and credit forms. Banking forms like balance sheets and accounting statements have to be periodically filed with the appropriate authorities. Apart from these accounting forms, banks also have to file various reports like Consolidated Report of Condition and Income, generally referred to as the call report.
In order to protect account holders from bank failures, the Congress has created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in 1933. If a banking institution is insured by the FDIC, the depositor is assured of protection even if s/he is a non- U.S. citizen.
Banking - FAQ
How are banks governed in the U.S.?
In the U.S., banks are governed by the Uniform Commercial Code. Apart from the federal and state level banking regulatory agencies, the nation has separate agencies to regulate securities, insurance and commodities. The country's banking regulations and administrative rules monitor and regulate privacy, fraud, anti- money laundering, anti-usury lending and other related financial activities.
How is a credit union different from a bank?
Credit unions are cooperative non- profit financial institutions that are managed and operated by their members. The financial services provided by credit unions are different from commercial banking services. They provide credit to the members at competitive rates and promote thrift. Credit unions also play an important role in bringing on social change by promoting sustainable community development. For this reason, they are also called community development financial institutions. The major difference between a credit union and a bank is that the members of a credit union are its owners. The members elect the board of directors in a democratic fashion.
Can I convert a payroll card account into a savings account?
A payroll card account is an account that helps you to withdraw an amount from your salary account with a payroll card. Usually, payroll card accounts do not have the formality of keeping a minimum quarterly balance amount in the account as in the case of savings account. You can convert your payroll card account to a regular savings account by submitting an acceptance form at the bank. Once the account is converted, you will no longer enjoy the benefits under the payroll card account and you may have to maintain a quarterly account balance as prescribed by the bank.
How can I protect myself from bank failures?
Bank failure refers to a situation when a bank is unable to meet depositor obligations or its obligations to other creditors. This happens when a bank becomes insolvent due to economic failure caused by decline in the market value of the bank's assets. In 1933, the U.S. Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to promote public confidence. All banks and financial institutions insured with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are protected in case of failure of an institution.
Can I pay my bills through online banking?
You can pay all your utility bills through online banking. Online banking helps you make financial transactions from your home, office or anywhere in the world through the internet. To use online banking services, you need to apply to your bank in the prescribed legal forms for assignment and obtaining confirmation codes and access credentials. Apart from paying your bills, you can also transfer money from one account to another. Other people can deposit money into your account online. Online banking allows you to view your transaction history at any time. Most banks activate the online banking facility when you open account with them. You can also get all kinds of banking forms, business forms, payroll forms and accounting forms online.
Can my bank provide me an overdraft?
Overdraft refers to the process of withdrawing money from a bank when there is no balance amount in your account. It is a kind of loan taken from your bank. An account owner will be qualified for overdraft protection based on the account history. Generally, account holders will not be eligible for overdrafts if they don't have good standing, or if the accounts don't receive a regular deposit. The overdraft facility is very useful for owners of small businesses with cash flow issues. You can request an overdraft by filing the prescribed application form with your bank.
Can I accept a letter of credit as payment?
Yes, you can accept a letter of credit as payment for goods and services rendered. It is different from a promissory note. A letter of credit is issued granting authorization on drafts and it offers payment guarantee of drafts on a specified amount. The recipient can redeem the letter of credit as payment for their services. It is also possible for you to authorize a third party to receive all or a part of the proceeds from a letter of credit. This is done by filing an authorization form with the bank.
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