A bank is a financial institution and a financial intermediary that accepts deposits and channels those deposits into lending activities, either directly by loaning or indirectly through capital markets. A bank is the connection between customers that have capital deficits and customers with capital surpluses.
Due to their influence within a financial system and an economy, banks are generally highly regulated in most countries. Most banks operate under a system known as fractional reserve banking where they hold only a small reserve of the funds deposited and lend out the rest for profit. They are generally subject to minimum capital requirements which are based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords.
The oldest bank still in existence is Monte dei Paschi di Siena, headquartered in Siena, Italy, which has been operating continuously since 1472. It is followed by Berenberg Bank of Hamburg (1590) and Sveriges Riksbank of Sweden (1668).
Banking in its modern sense evolved in rich cities of Renaissance Italy, such as Florence, Venice and Genoa. In the history of banking, a number of banking dynasties—among them notably Medici, Fugger, Welser, Berenberg, Baring and Rothschild—have played a central role over many centuries.
Famous quotes containing the word bank:
“Life is a long Dardenelles, My Dear Madam, the shores whereof are bright with flowers, which we want to pluck, but the bank is too high; & so we float on & on, hoping to come to a landing-place at lastbut swoop! we launch into the great sea! Yet the geographers say, even then we must not despair, because across the great sea, however desolate & vacant it may look, lie all Persia & the delicious lands roundabout Damascus.”
—Herman Melville (18191891)
“People get a bad impression of it by continually trying to treat it as if it was a bank clerk, who ought to be on time on Tuesday next, instead of philosophically seeing it as a painter, who may do anything so long as you dont try to predict what.”
—Katharine Whitehorn (b. 1926)
“When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.”
—Bible: Hebrew, Exodus 2:3.