Commercial Banking vs Retail Banking: What’s the Difference?

commercial banking vs retail banking

The global market size for financial services is expected to reach an astounding $22.5 trillion in 2021. That figure will climb to $28.5 trillion by 2025.

Among the biggest players in the financial services industry are retail and commercial banks. Both types of institutions are of critical importance to both the domestic and global economies.

But exactly what is retail banking, and how does it differ from commercial banking? If you’re asking this question, you’ve come to the right place. This post sheds more light on the commercial banking vs retail banking discussion.

What Is Private Banking?

The terms retail banking, private banking, and consumer banking are often used interchangeably. They refer to a division of banking that handles retail customers. 

Retail banking focuses on dealing directly with clients located in a close city or town. The retail bank handles much of its activity face to face, in a manner clear and visible to the client.

Given that retail banks serve many clients with a multitude of transactions, it’s referred to as mass-market banking.

Note that retail banking doesn’t solely depend on physical locations. The term simply refers to the business model followed. Simply put, retail banking operates on relatively small or medium-sized transactions.

Thus, many retail banks allow their clients to enjoy the benefits of digital banking by providing online banking services.

The most important source of funds in retail banking is customer deposits. The bank makes a profit through service charges and fees. The institution also earns income from the interest they charge when they lend out money to clients. 

What Is Commercial Banking?

Now that we’ve seen the retail banking definition, it’s time to look at another popular type of banking: commercial banking. Also known as corporate banking, commercial banking provides services to businesses and governments. 

Generally, these are stocking corporations that make money by acting as financial intermediaries

Corporate banks tend to have physical locations from which they offer their services. In the recent past, however, these institutions have been increasingly operating online. 

Commercial Banking Vs. Retail Banks: The Main Differences

Retail and commercial banking differ in several important ways. Let’s take a closer look at some of these differences.

Services Offered

Both types of banks provide a large variety of services to their respective clients. Retail banking clients can expect these services:

Checking and Savings Accounts

A retail bank allows its customers to open checking and savings accounts. Once you open a checking account, you’ll be required to pay a monthly fee. 

With a savings account, you earn a slightly higher interest rate. However, you cannot have checks written on the account.

Mortgages

Retail banks also offer different mortgage loan types to their clients. These loans are meant for buying either residential or investment property. Generally, mortgages earn a substantial chunk of retail banking profits due to their size.

Auto Financing

Clients looking for vehicle financing can also talk to retail banks. The banks also provide refinancing for existing car loans.

Credit Cards 

Credit cards are one of the most lucrative sources of interest income for banks. That’s because this service attracts some of the highest interest rates in the industry.

There are, of course, many other services retail banking offers, but these are among the most popular.

Clients looking for commercial banking services can benefit from the following offerings:

Loans and Other Credit Products

Just like retail banks, corporate banks offer different loan facilities. Perhaps the biggest difference here is that the loans involved.

Corporate banking offers more substantial compared to those offered in retail banking. 

Treasury and Cash Management Services  

Corporate banking clients can also benefit from treasury and cash management services. Such services help clients manage their working capital besides meeting their currency conversion needs.

Equipment Lending 

Clients can benefit from customized loans and leases to acquire a range of equipment. Such equipment may be used in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, IT, and transportation. 

Other services offered by corporate banks include:

  • Trade finance
  • factoring
  • letters of credit

These are only some of the services offered by corporate banks. Corporate banking clients can expect to find a range of products they can use to meet their business financial needs.

Target Clients

There’s a huge difference between the clients of these banks.

Generally, retail banking focuses on individuals. Commercial banking is more concerned with corporate clients, from SMEs to large conglomerates. 

Volume and Value of Transactions

In retail banking, the volume of transactions is typically high. However, the value of transactions is low, given that the client base consists of individuals and small businesses. 

In contrast, the volume of transactions is much lower in commercial banking. The value of these transactions, however, is considerably much higher as the client base is typically made of sizable business enterprises. 

Product Customization

Generally, retail banking involves little product and service customisation. Most products are standardised, also referred to as off-the-shelf products. 

Things are different with corporate banking, customised where the products and services are highly personalised to meet the client’s specific requirements and preferences.

Commercial Banking Vs Retail Banking: Now You Know The Differences

Hopefully, the commercial banking vs retail banking conversation is clearer to you now. While the two banking approaches provide services essential to the economy, their target clients, volume and value of transactions, and service customisation levels are significantly different. 

We hope you enjoyed this article about the differences between commercial and retail banking. Are you looking for more information about finance? Check out our blog section for more content.

1