Banks and NBFC — Comparison & Procedure
-- Vipul Raheja, Advocate, Delhi High Court --

What is a Bank

A Bank is a financial institution which performs the deposit and lending function. A bank allows a person with excess money (Saver) to deposit his money in the bank and earns an interest rate. Similarly, the bank lends to a person who needs money (investor/borrower) at an interest rate.

Banks may also provide financial services such as wealth management, currency exchange, and safe deposit boxes. There are several different kinds of banks including retail banks, commercial or corporate banks, and investment banks. In most countries, banks are regulated by the national government or central bank.

Banks operate by borrowing funds-usually by accepting deposits or by borrowing in the money markets. Through the process of taking deposits, making loans, and responding to interest rate signals, the banking system helps channel funds from savers to borrowers in an efficient manner

Definition of Bank

Banks are the financial institutions, authorised by the government to conduct banking activity like accepting deposits, granting credit, managing withdrawals pay interest, clearing cheques and providing general utility services to the customers. Banks are the apex organisation, which dominates the entire financial system of the country. It acts as a financial intermediary, between the depositors and borrowers, that ensures smooth functioning of the economy.

Banks can be public sector banks, private sector banks or foreign banks. They are responsible for making loans, creating credit, mobilisation of deposits, safe and time bound transfer of money and providing public utility services. Ownership of a commercial bank lies with the shareholder and they are operated with the profit motive.

Types of Banks

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.

Banks are further segregated into four types.

Commercial Banks : These banks are regulated by Banking Regulation Act, 1949. They accept the public deposit from the public for lending or investment.

Cooperative Banks: Cooperative banks are undertaken by the State Cooperative Societies Act and give cheap credit to their members. The rural population is dependent on the cooperative banks for its financial backup.

Specialized Banks: These banks provide financial help to special industries, foreign trade, etc. Few examples of specialized banks are foreign exchange banks, export and import banks, development banks, etc.

Central Banks: These banks manage, check, and monitor all the activities of the commercial banks of a country.

Types of Commercial Banks

(1)   Public sector banks

·         Public sector banks are those banks in which the major holding is of the government.

·         Examples: SBI, PNB, OBC, etc.

(2)  Private sector banks

·         Private sector banks are those banks that are owned, controlled, and managed by private promoters.

·         They operate according to the market forces.

·         Examples: HDFC, ICICI, Kotak Mahindra, etc.

What is Banking?

Banking is directly or indirectly connected with the trade of a country and the life of each individual. It is an industry that manages credit, cash, and other financial transactions. In banking, the commercial bank is the most influential institution for any country’s economy or for providing any credit to its customers.

In India, a banking company is responsible for transacting all the business transactions including withdrawal of cheques, payments, investments, etc. In other words, the bank is involved in the deposit and withdrawal of money, repayable on demand, savings, and earning a decent amount of profits by lending money.

Banks also help to mobilise the savings of an individual, making funds accessible to businesses and help them to start a new venture.

However, unlike commercial banks, private sector banks are owned, operated, and regulated by private investors and have the right to operate according to the market forces.

What is importance of bank?

A well-functioning financial system is fundamental to a modern economy, and banks perform important functions for society. They must therefore be secure. Banks should be able to lend money to consumers and businesses in both upturns and downturns.

Relationship between a Banker and Customer

The relationship between the banker and customer is very important. Both serve the society to grow and the economy to expand. It is generally studied under the following two categories.

  • General Relationship
  • Special Relationship

General Relationship

Debtor and Creditor :

The true relationship between banker and customer is primarily of a debtor and creditor. When customer deposits money with a bank, the bank then is the debtor and the customer is the creditor. The customer expects from the bank that His money will be kept safe by the bank, it will be returned on demand within business hours and the money will be intact and safe and will give return (interest). The position is reversed if the customer is advanced loan then the banker becomes creditor and the customer is debtor.

Special Relationship

  1. Principal and agent:

The special relationship between the customer and the banker is that of principal and agent. The customer (principal) deposits checks, drafts, dividends for collection with the bank. He also gives written instructions to the bank to purchase securities, pay insurance premium, installments of loans etc on his behalf. When the bank performs such agency services, he becomes an agent of his customer.

  1. Bailer and Bailment relationship

A bailment is the delivery of goods in trust. A bank may accept the valuables of his customer such as jewellary, documents, and securities for safe custody. In such a case the customer is the Bailer and the bank is bailee. The bank (bailee) charges a very small amount as service charges for safe custody of the valuables from his customer (bailer). This relationship between the bank and the customer as bailee and bailer started from the days of earlier goldsmiths.

  1. Pawner and Pawnee:

When a customer Pledge goods and documents as security for an advance he then become Pawner (Pledger) and the bank becomes the Pawnee (pledgee). The pledged goods are to be returned intact to the pawner after the debt is repaid by him. 

  1. Mortgager and Mortgagee relationship

Mortgage is the transfer of an interest in specific immovable property for the purpose of securing the payment of money advanced or to be advanced by way of loan. When a customer pledges a specific immovable property with the bank as security for advance, the customer becomes mortgager and banker is the mortgagee.

  1. Bank as a trustee

The bank can act as a trustee for his customer. When the banker accepts securities and other valuables for safe custody is called that it is acting as trustee. In such cases the customer continues to be the owner of the valuables deposited with the bank. The bank also acts as executor, attorney and guarantor for his customer.

What is NBFC?

As finance is the basic requirement of individual’s and business’s, banks alone cannot cater all the sections of the society. That is why NBFC came into being, both in public and private sector, to complement banks in providing finance to people.

Definition of NBFC

NBFC expands to Non-Banking Financial Company is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 and regulated by the Central Bank i.e. Reserve Bank of India under RBI Act, 1934. These entities are not banks, but they are engaged in lending and other activities, akin to that of banks like providing loans and advances, credit facility, savings and investment products, trading in the money market, managing portfolios of stocks, transfer of money and so on.

It is indulged in the activities of hire purchasing, leasing, infrastructure finance,venture capital finance, housing finance, etc. An NBFC accepts deposits, but only term deposits and deposits repayable on demand are not accepted by it.

A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance ...

How is NBFC different from bank?

An NBFC is a company that provides banking services to people without holding a bank license. An NBFC is incorporated under the Indian Companies Act, 1956 whereas a bank is registered under Banking Regulation Act, 1949. NBFC is not allowed to accept such deposits which are repayable on demand.

Why are NBFC better than banks?

As compared to banksNBFCs follow more flexible approach to avail a business loan. They make it easy for the customers to avail fast and quick financing. Inspite of having a low credit score one can effortlessly avail for a business loan from a leading NBFC.

While banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFC) both are key financial intermediaries, that offer almost similar services to the customers. The major difference between NBFC and bank is that unlike banks, an NBFC cannot issue self-drawn cheques and demand drafts.

Another important point of distinction amidst these two is that while banks take part in the country’s payment mechanism, non-banking financial companies are not involved in such transactions.





Key Differences Between NBFC and Bank

The difference between NBFC and bank can be drawn clearly on the following grounds:

  1. A government authorised financial intermediary that aims at providing banking services to the general public is called the bank. An NBFC is a company that provides banking services to people without holding a bank license.
  2. An NBFC is incorporated under the Indian Companies Act, 1956 whereas a bank is registered under Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  3. NBFC is not allowed to accept such deposits which are repayable on demand. Unlike banks, which accepts demand deposits.
  4. Foreign Investments up to 100% is allowed in NBFC. On the other hand, only banks of the private sector are eligible for foreign investment, and that would be not more than 74%.
  5. Banks are an integral part of payment and settlement cycle while NBFC, is not a part of the system.
  6. It is mandatory for bank maintain reserve ratios like CRR or SLR. As opposed to NBFC, which does not require to maintain reserve ratios.
  7. The deposit insurance facility is allowed to the depositors of banks by Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC). Such facility is unavailable in the case of NBFC.
  8. Banks create credit, whereas NBFC is not involved in the creation of credit.
  9. Banks provide transaction services to the customers, such as providing overdraft facility, the issue of traveller’s cheque, transfer of funds, etc. Such services are not provided by NBFC.


NBFC’s are mainly established to grant credit to the poor section of the society, whereas the banks are chartered by the government to receive deposits and grant credit to the public. The licensing regulations of a bank are more stringent than that of an NBFC. Moreover, a bank cannot operate any business other than the banking business, but an NBFC can operate such business.

15 Jun 2022


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