A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates credit. Lending activities can be performed either indirectly through capital markets. Due to their importance in the financial stability of a country, banks are regulated in most countries. Most nations have institutionalized a system known as fractional reserve banking under which banks hold liquid assets equal to only a portion of their current liabilities. In addition to other regulations intended to ensure liquidity, banks are subject to minimum capital requirements based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords. Banking in its modern sense evolved in the 14th century in the prosperous cities of Renaissance Italy but in many ways was a continuation of ideas and concepts of credit and lending that had their roots in the ancient world. In the history of banking, a number of banking dynasties – notably, the Medicis, the Fuggers, the Welsers, the Berenbergs, the Rothschilds – have played a central role over many centuries.
The oldest existing retail bank is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, while the oldest existing merchant bank is Berenberg Bank. The concept of banking may have begun in ancient Assyria and Babylonia, with merchants offering loans of grain as collateral within a barter system. Lenders in ancient Greece and during the Roman Empire added two important innovations: they accepted deposits and changed money. Archaeology from this period in ancient China and India shows evidence of money lending. More modern banking can be traced to medieval and early Renaissance Italy, to the rich cities in the centre and north like Florence, Siena and Genoa; the Bardi and Peruzzi families dominated banking in 14th-century Florence, establishing branches in many other parts of Europe. One of the most famous Italian banks was the Medici Bank, set up by Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici in 1397; the earliest known state deposit bank, Banco di San Giorgio, was founded in 1407 at Italy. Modern banking practices, including fractional reserve banking and the issue of banknotes, emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Merchants started to store their gold with the goldsmiths of London, who possessed private vaults, charged a fee for that service. In exchange for each deposit of precious metal, the goldsmiths issued receipts certifying the quantity and purity of the metal they held as a bailee; the goldsmiths began to lend the money out on behalf of the depositor, which led to the development of modern banking practices. The goldsmith paid interest on these deposits. Since the promissory notes were payable on demand, the advances to the goldsmith's customers were repayable over a longer time period, this was an early form of fractional reserve banking; the promissory notes developed into an assignable instrument which could circulate as a safe and convenient form of money backed by the goldsmith's promise to pay, allowing goldsmiths to advance loans with little risk of default. Thus, the goldsmiths of London became the forerunners of banking by creating new money based on credit; the Bank of England was the first to begin the permanent issue of banknotes, in 1695.
The Royal Bank of Scotland established the first overdraft facility in 1728. By the beginning of the 19th century a bankers' clearing house was established in London to allow multiple banks to clear transactions; the Rothschilds pioneered international finance on a large scale, financing the purchase of the Suez canal for the British government. The word bank was taken Middle English from Middle French banque, from Old Italian banco, meaning "table", from Old High German banc, bank "bench, counter". Benches were used as makeshift desks or exchange counters during the Renaissance by Jewish Florentine bankers, who used to make their transactions atop desks covered by green tablecloths; the definition of a bank varies from country to country. See the relevant country pages under for more information. Under English common law, a banker is defined as a person who carries on the business of banking by conducting current accounts for his customers, paying cheques drawn on him/her and collecting cheques for his/her customers.
In most common law jurisdictions there is a Bills of Exchange Act that codifies the law in relation to negotiable instruments, including cheques, this Act contains a statutory definition of the term banker: banker includes a body of persons, whether incorporated or not, who carry on the business of banking'. Although this definition seems circular, it is functional, because it ensures that the legal basis for bank transactions such as cheques does not depend on how the bank is structured or regulated; the business of banking is in many English common law countries not defined by statute but by common law, the definition above. In other English common law jurisdictions there are statutory definitions of the business of banking or banking business; when looking at these definitions it is important to keep in mind that they are defining the business of banking for the purposes of the legislation, not in general. In particular, most of the definitions are from legislation that has the purpose of regulating and supervising banks rather than regulating the actual business of banking.
However, in many cases the statutory definition mirrors the common law one. Examples of statutory definitions: "banking business" means the business of receiving money on current or deposit account and collecting cheques drawn by or paid in by customers, the making
Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are corporations that provide services as intermediaries of financial markets. Broadly speaking, there are three major types of financial institutions: Depository institutions – deposit-taking institutions that accept and manage deposits and make loans, including banks, building societies, credit unions, trust companies, mortgage loan companies. Financial institutions can be distinguished broadly into two categories according to ownership structure: Commercial Banks Cooperative BanksSome experts see a trend toward homogenisation of financial institutions, meaning a tendency to invest in similar areas and have similar business strategies. A consequence of this might be fewer banks serving specific target groups, small-scale producers may be under-served. Standard Settlement Instructions are the agreements between two financial institutions which fix the receiving agents of each counterparty in ordinary trades of some type; these agreements allow traders to make faster trades since the time used to settle the receiving agents is conserved.
Limiting the trader to an SSI lowers the likelihood of a fraud. SSIs are used by financial institutions to facilitate accurate cross-border payments. Financial institutions in most countries operate in a regulated environment because they are critical parts of countries' economies, due to economies' dependence on them to grow the money supply via fractional reserve lending. Regulatory structures differ in each country, but involve prudential regulation as well as consumer protection and market stability; some countries have one consolidated agency that regulates all financial institutions while others have separate agencies for different types of institutions such as banks, insurance companies and brokers. Countries that have separate agencies include the United States, where the key governing bodies are the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency - National Banks, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation State "non-member" banks, National Credit Union Administration - Credit Unions, Federal Reserve - "member" Banks, Office of Thrift Supervision - National Savings & Loan Association, State governments each regulate and charter financial institutions.
Countries that have one consolidated financial regulator include: Norway with the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway, Germany with Federal Financial Supervisory Authority and Russia with Central Bank of Russia. Merits of raising funds through financial institutions are as follows: Financial institutions provide long term finance, which are not provided by commercial banks; such a company can raise funds from other sources as well. Cooperative banking
A corporation is an organization a group of people or a company, authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law. Early incorporated entities were established by charter. Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration. Corporations come in many different types but are divided by the law of the jurisdiction where they are chartered into two kinds: by whether they can issue stock or not, or by whether they are formed to make a profit or not. Corporations can be divided by the number of owners: corporation corporation sole; the subject of this article is a corporation aggregate. A corporation sole is a legal entity consisting of a single incorporated office, occupied by a single natural person. Where local law distinguishes corporations by the ability to issue stock, corporations allowed to do so are referred to as "stock corporations", ownership of the corporation is through stock, owners of stock are referred to as "stockholders" or "shareholders".
Corporations not allowed to issue stock are referred to as "non-stock" corporations. Corporations chartered in regions where they are distinguished by whether they are allowed to be for profit or not are referred to as "for profit" and "not-for-profit" corporations, respectively. There is some overlap between stock/non-stock and for-profit/not-for-profit in that not-for-profit corporations are always non-stock as well. A for-profit corporation is always a stock corporation, but some for-profit corporations may choose to be non-stock. To simplify the explanation, whenever "Stockholder" or "shareholder" is used in the rest of this article to refer to a stock corporation, it is presumed to mean the same as "member" for a non-profit corporation or for a profit, non-stock corporation. Registered corporations have legal personality and their shares are owned by shareholders whose liability is limited to their investment. Shareholders do not actively manage a corporation. In most circumstances, a shareholder may serve as a director or officer of a corporation.
In American English, the word corporation is most used to describe large business corporations. In British English and in the Commonwealth countries, the term company is more used to describe the same sort of entity while the word corporation encompasses all incorporated entities. In American English, the word company can include entities such as partnerships that would not be referred to as companies in British English as they are not a separate legal entity. Late in the 19th century, a new form of company having the limited liability protections of a corporation, the more favorable tax treatment of either a sole proprietorship or partnership was developed. While not a corporation, this new type of entity became attractive as an alternative for corporations not needing to issue stock. In Germany, the organization was referred to as Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung or GmbH. In the last quarter of the 20th Century this new form of non-corporate organization became available in the United States and other countries, was known as the limited liability company or LLC.
Since the GmbH and LLC forms of organization are technically not corporations, they will not be discussed in this article. The word "corporation" derives from corpus, the Latin word for body, or a "body of people". By the time of Justinian, Roman law recognized a range of corporate entities under the names universitas, corpus or collegium; these included the state itself and such private associations as sponsors of a religious cult, burial clubs, political groups, guilds of craftsmen or traders. Such bodies had the right to own property and make contracts, to receive gifts and legacies, to sue and be sued, and, in general, to perform legal acts through representatives. Private associations were granted designated liberties by the emperor. Entities which carried on business and were the subjects of legal rights were found in ancient Rome, the Maurya Empire in ancient India. In medieval Europe, churches became incorporated, as did local governments, such as the Pope and the City of London Corporation.
The point was that the incorporation would survive longer than the lives of any particular member, existing in perpetuity. The alleged oldest commercial corporation in the world, the Stora Kopparberg mining community in Falun, obtained a charter from King Magnus Eriksson in 1347. In medieval times, traders would do business through common law constructs, such as partnerships. Whenever people acted together with a view to profit, the law deemed. Early guilds and livery companies were often involved in the regulation of competition between traders. Dutch and English chartered companies, such as the Dutch East India Company and the Hudson's Bay Company, were created to lead the colonial ventures of European nations in the 17th century. Acting under a charter sanctioned by the Dutch government, the Dutch East India Company defeated Portuguese forces and established itself in the Moluccan Islands in order to profit from the European demand for spices. Investors in the VOC were issued paper certificates as proof of share ownership, were able to trade their shares on the original Amsterdam
Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management used to hedge against the risk of a contingent or uncertain loss. An entity which provides insurance is known as an insurer, insurance company, insurance carrier or underwriter. A person or entity who buys insurance is known as a policyholder; the insurance transaction involves the insured assuming a guaranteed and known small loss in the form of payment to the insurer in exchange for the insurer's promise to compensate the insured in the event of a covered loss. The loss may or may not be financial, but it must be reducible to financial terms, involves something in which the insured has an insurable interest established by ownership, possession, or pre-existing relationship; the insured receives a contract, called the insurance policy, which details the conditions and circumstances under which the insurer will compensate the insured. The amount of money charged by the insurer to the Policyholder for the coverage set forth in the insurance policy is called the premium.
If the insured experiences a loss, covered by the insurance policy, the insured submits a claim to the insurer for processing by a claims adjuster. The insurer may hedge its own risk by taking out reinsurance, whereby another insurance company agrees to carry some of the risk if the primary insurer deems the risk too large for it to carry. Methods for transferring or distributing risk were practiced by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively. Chinese merchants travelling treacherous river rapids would redistribute their wares across many vessels to limit the loss due to any single vessel's capsizing; the Babylonians developed a system, recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 BC, practiced by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender's guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen, or lost at sea. Circa 800 BC, the inhabitants of Rhodes created the'general average'.
This allowed groups of merchants to pay to insure their goods being shipped together. The collected premiums would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were jettisoned during transport, whether due to storm or sinkage. Separate insurance contracts were invented in Genoa in the 14th century, as were insurance pools backed by pledges of landed estates; the first known insurance contract dates from Genoa in 1347, in the next century maritime insurance developed and premiums were intuitively varied with risks. These new insurance contracts allowed insurance to be separated from investment, a separation of roles that first proved useful in marine insurance. Insurance became far more sophisticated in Enlightenment era Europe, specialized varieties developed. Property insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured more than 13,000 houses; the devastating effects of the fire converted the development of insurance "from a matter of convenience into one of urgency, a change of opinion reflected in Sir Christopher Wren's inclusion of a site for'the Insurance Office' in his new plan for London in 1667."
A number of attempted fire insurance schemes came to nothing, but in 1681, economist Nicholas Barbon and eleven associates established the first fire insurance company, the "Insurance Office for Houses," at the back of the Royal Exchange to insure brick and frame homes. 5,000 homes were insured by his Insurance Office. At the same time, the first insurance schemes for the underwriting of business ventures became available. By the end of the seventeenth century, London's growing importance as a center for trade was increasing demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house, which became the meeting place for parties in the shipping industry wishing to insure cargoes and ships, those willing to underwrite such ventures; these informal beginnings led to the establishment of the insurance market Lloyd's of London and several related shipping and insurance businesses. The first life insurance policies were taken out in the early 18th century; the first company to offer life insurance was the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office, founded in London in 1706 by William Talbot and Sir Thomas Allen.
Edward Rowe Mores established the Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorship in 1762. It was the world's first mutual insurer and it pioneered age based premiums based on mortality rate laying "the framework for scientific insurance practice and development" and "the basis of modern life assurance upon which all life assurance schemes were subsequently based."In the late 19th century "accident insurance" began to become available. The first company to offer accident insurance was the Railway Passengers Assurance Company, formed in 1848 in England to insure against the rising number of fatalities on the nascent railway system. By the late 19th century governments began to initiate national insurance programs against sickness and old age. Germany built on a tradition of welfare programs in Prussia and Saxony that began as early as in the 1840s. In the 1880s Chancellor Otto von Bismarck introduced old age pensions, accident insurance and medical care that formed the basis for Germany's welfare state.
In Britain more extensive legislation was introduced by the Liberal government in the 1911 National Insurance Act. This gave the British working classes the first contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment; this system was expanded after the Second World War under the inf