Retail Banking

Definition: Retail banking is a financial segment that caters the requirements of individuals as customers, majorly comprising of the low-income groups of the society. It facilitates the common people to make deposits, avail credit and get their funds managed systematically. Personal banking deals in a huge volume of financial transactions although these are of small amounts.

The concept of consumer banking not only simplify the lives of common people, but it is also a positive approach towards economic stability in a country.

Content: Retail Banking

Retail Banking Features

These banks are different from commercial banks in many ways. Let us discuss multiple characteristics of the retail banking system:

  • Asset Portfolio Diversification: In retail banking, the fund is allocated to a wide range of consumers which mitigates the risk of non-performing assets (NPA).
  • Caters Individual Needs: It offers financial services or facilities to the people right from deposits, withdrawal and credit to savings, money transfer and online transactions.
  • Large Volume of Transactions: A retail bank manages bulk transactions simultaneously since there is an excessive number of users or customers.
  • Risk Mitigation: Since the assets are spread among a huge consumer base, a low NPA can be expected, thus reducing the chances of loss for the banks.
  • Low Transaction Value: The amount of each transaction taking place in retail banking is usually nominal because the majority of consumers belong to a low net worth category.
  • Attractive Market Segment: Retail banking is considered to be an alluring sector for investors, managers, shareholders and other associates.


ICICI bank is one of the most renowned personal banks in India.

A highly popular financial product offered by ICICI bank is a ‘Term Life Insurance Plan’ that is quite pocket friendly to the customers while it provides financial security to the family in case of insured person’s demise.

Functions of Retail Banking

When we think of a bank, we memorize multiple utilities offered by these financial institutions.

Personal banking majorly focuses on three key operations, which are explained in detail below:

Functions of Retail Banking

Accept Deposits: Retail banks act as a secured place for the individual depositors (be it consumers or the business entities) to safe keep their funds. It initiates the accumulation of assets for the banks.

Offer Credit: For the ones who require funds, retail banking provides loans, advances and other forms of credit. It is a form of income creation for these banks through asset allocation.

Money Management: Other banking facilities like credit cards, debit cards, various accounts, lockers, etc. adds to the customer services or offerings. It simplifies online transactions, savings, safekeeping of valuables and many more.

Types of Retail Banks

We have understood that retail banking is a completely different phenomenon when compared to commercial, investment or corporate banking systems.

Let us discover the prominent kinds of retail banks providing extensive financial solutions to individual customers:

Types of Retail Banks
  1. Private Bank: These banks serve the financial needs of the middle class as well as high-class customers located in the cities or urban places.
  2. Savings Bank: Such retail banks facilitate deposit of funds as savings accumulated by the individuals.
  3. Community Development Bank: These banks are formed to disseminate credit or other financial services to an underprivileged section of the society.
  4. Credit Union: It is a non-profit cooperative bank that comprises of many members, who are offered a higher interest rate on their deposits.
  5. Postal Savings Bank: Indian postal system when linked with the savings banks form a postal savings bank.
  6. Offshore Bank: The headquarter is in the home country while the bank operates in other countries is categorized as an offshore bank.

Retail Banking Products

While a customer seeks different facilities from a retail bank, it becomes essential for these institutions to offer an immense variety of services.

Consumer banks design products by keeping in mind the customer requirement and potential services other than core banking solutions.

Some of the known personal banking products are as follows:

Retail Banking Products
  1. Deposit Accounts: The basic necessity for becoming a bank’s client is to open an account with that respective financial institution by depositing the required sum. The type of account opened depends upon the need or purpose of the customer. These accounts include:
    • Current Deposit Account
    • Savings Bank Account
    • Zero Balance Account
    • Term Deposit Account
    • Recurring Deposit Account
    • Senior Citizen Deposit Account
    • No Frill Account
    • Individual Retirement Account
    • Sweep Account
    • Money Market Account
  2. Loans: Any kind of credit offered by the consumer bank to the individuals is considered as a loan. The most common form of retail bank lending include:
    • Personal Loan
    • Mortgage Loan
    • Consumer Loan
    • Business Loan
    • Auto Loan
    • Crop Loan
    • Home Equity Loan
    • Education Loan
  3. Plastic Payment Cards: To expedite financial transactions and make things smooth for the consumers, banks have brought forward the concept of compact plastic cards which can be used anywhere and almost everywhere for making payments. The three forms of plastic cards available are:
    • Credit Card
    • Debit Card
    • ATM Card
  4. Others: The retail banks have gone an extra edge to serve their customers through the following innovative products:
    • Traveller’s Cheque
    • Bancassurance
    • Certificate of Deposits
    • Safe Deposit Locker

Advantages of Retail Banking

We have always wondered that what would the lives of individuals be without the retail banks?

This banking system has streamlined everyday activities. The various objectives of retail banking are as follows:

Advantages of Retail Banking
  • Economic Stability: Retail banks are the initiators in attaining a stable economy for any country as they influence the lives of common people.
  • Fund Distribution: It facilitates mobilization of money from the investors or misers to the borrowers. This is to ensure better circulation of funds.
  • Deposit Facility: The customers can fearlessly keep their funds as deposits with these retail banks being assured of the security and
  • Innovative Banking Services or Products: With modernization, retail banks have come up with numerous ingenious products like mobile banking,
  • Backs New Ventures: Many small household customers starts a home run business through their savings in retail banks.
  • Better Lifestyle and Standard of Living: Since retail banking boosts trade and commerce within a country, the living standards effortlessly improves.
  • Facilitates Retail Purchase: Whether it is through m-commerce or physical store, the retail banks ease-out buying of goods along with providing credit facility.

Retail Banking Challenges

When retail banking sounds an intelligible solution for the economy and the people, establishing a robust system is not an easy function. It is prone to the aforementioned hurdles:

Retail Banking Challenges
  • Expensive Affair: Setting up a robust network for managing the high-volume transactions is highly expensive.
  • Non-Performing Assets: These banks face bad debts in the form of NPAs where the customers fail to repay the loans.
  • Strong IT Setup: Without an impeccable network or IT arrangement, it is impossible to run a retail banking unit.
  • Technological Errors: Machines are not always perfect, even the technology keeps on modifying over the period. Thus, spending heavily on an IT system which soon becomes obsolete is in vain.
  • Extensive Human Resource Requirement: For handling the hefty task of record-keeping and management of the transactions, it is essential to hire huge manpower.
  • Difficult Product Differentiation: It is an extremely analytical task to design creative financial products for consumers.


Retail banking is an extensive approach that focuses on aiding individuals to fulfil their financial motives and carry out day to day monetary transactions with ease. Even the virtual banking system is interlinked with retail banking facilities.

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