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Current account (banking)

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Current account (banking)

A transactional account (or chequing account or checking account) is a deposit account held at a bank or other financial institution, for the purpose of securely and quickly providing frequent access to funds on demand, through a variety of different channels.

Transactional accounts are meant neither for the purpose of earning interest nor for the purpose of savings, but for convenience of the business or personal client; hence they tend not to bear interest. Instead, a customer can deposit or withdraw any amount of money any number of times, subject to availability of funds.

Name

A transactional account is commonly referred to as a checking or chequing account in North America,[1] and as a current account or cheque account in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, India and a number of other countries, generally former British colonies. Because money is available on demand it is also sometimes known as a demand account or demand deposit account (DDA), except in the case of NOW accounts in the U.S., which are technically distinct.

History

In Holland in the early 1500s, Amsterdam was a major trading and shipping city. People who had acquired large accumulations of cash began to deposit their money with "cashiers" in order to protect their wealth. These cashiers held the money for a fee. Competition drove cashiers to offer additional services, including paying out money to any person bearing a written order from a depositor to do so. They kept the note as proof of payment.

This concept spread to other countries including England and its colonies in North America, where land owners in Boston in 1681 mortgaged their land to cashiers who provided an account against which they could write checks.

In the eighteenth century in England, preprinted checks, serial numbers, and the very word "cheque" appeared. By the late eighteenth century, the difficulty of clearing checks (sending them from one bank to another for collection) gave rise to the development of clearing houses.

Features and access

All transactional accounts offer itemized lists of all financial transactions, either through a bank statement or a passbook. A transactional account allows the account holder to make or receive payments by:

Country specific


Certain modes of payment are country-specific:

Access


Branch networks

Main article: Branch banking

This refers to the practice of maintaining physical locations where customers can receive a wide array of banking and financial services, such locations are described as branches. They may provide access to a combination of cash machines, telephone banking, counter services and financial advice.

ATM machines

An automated teller machine (ATM) (American, Australian, Singaporean and Indian English), also known as an automated banking machine (ABM) (Canadian English), cash machine, cashpoint, cashline or hole in the wall (British and Hiberno-English), is an electronic telecommunications device that enables the clients of a financial institution to perform financial transactions without the need for a cashier, human clerk or bank teller. ATMs are known by various other names including ATM machine, automated banking machine and various regional variants derived from trademarks on ATM systems held by particular banks.

Overdrafts

Main article: Overdraft

In North America, overdraft protection is an optional feature of a chequing account. An account holder may either apply for a permanent one, or the financial institution may, at its sole discretion, provide a temporary overdraft on an ad hoc basis.

Interest

Main article: Interest

Formerly, in the United States, Regulation Q (12 CFR 217) and the Banking Acts of 1933 and 1935 (12 USC 371a) prohibited a member of the Federal Reserve system from paying interest on demand deposit accounts. Historically, this restriction was frequently circumvented by either creating an account type such as a Negotiable Order of Withdrawal account (NOW account) which is legally not a demand deposit account or by offering interest-paying chequing through a bank which is not a member of the Federal Reserve system. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, however, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010, repealed the statutes that prohibit interest-bearing demand deposit accounts, effectively repealing Regulation Q (Pub. L. 111-203, Section 627). The repeal took effect on July 21, 2011. Since that date, financial institutions have been permitted, but not required, to offer interest-bearing demand deposit accounts.

High-yield checking accounts

In the United States, high-interest NOW accounts have become prevalent throughout the industry. They pay a higher interest rate than typical NOW accounts and frequently function as loss-leaders to drive relationship banking.

In 2003, banks and credit unions began to establish maximum balance accounts, which pay a premium rate up to a specified cap and a lower rate on balances above the cap. This counter-traditional trend (banks had typically established minimum account balances rather than maximum account balances) developed as a way to allow financial institutions to attract multiple customer relationships while limiting the interest expense associated with each account.

The first maximum balance, high-interest chequing account was offered in 2003 by a small community bank in New Mexico, Pioneer Bank. In 2004 and 2005, several community banks in West Texas adopted the idea, and a 3rd party vendor, BancVue, combined the maximum-balance concept with the idea of a higher yield for customers who adopt specific cost-savings behaviors, as a "Reward" Checking account.

Other imitators rapidly followed. By 2010, over 1.5 million REWARDChecking(r) accounts had been opened at BancVue's clients alone.[2]

Internet banking

Main article: Online banking

Internet or online banking describes the use of a bank's secure Web site to view balances and statements, perform transactions and payments, and various other facilities. This can be very useful, especially for banking when a bank is not open or for banking from anywhere Internet access is available. Since the Internet revolution, most retail banking institutions offer access to their own current accounts via online banking.

Telephone banking

Main article: Telephone banking

Telephone banking is the term applied to specific provision of banking services over the telephone. In many cases such calls are to a call centre or automated service, although some institutions continue to answer such calls in their branches. Often call centre opening times are considerably longer than branches, and some firms provide these services on a 24 hour basis.

Mail banking

Main article: Mail banking

Stores and merchants providing debit card access

Main article: Debit card

Overdrafts

Main article: Overdraft

An overdraft occurs when withdrawals from a bank account exceed the available balance. This gives the account a negative balance and in effect means the account provider is providing credit. If there is a prior agreement with the account provider for an overdraft facility, and the amount overdrawn is within this authorised overdraft, then interest is normally charged at the agreed rate. If the balance exceeds the agreed facility then fees may be charged and a higher interest rate might apply.

Consumer reporting

In the United States some consumer reporting agencies such as ChexSystems, Early Warning Services, and TeleCheck track how people manage their checking accounts. Banks use the agencies to screen checking account applicants. Those with low debit scores are denied checking accounts because a bank can not afford an account to be overdrawn.[3][4][5]

Cost

Any fees charged for financial transactions depend on a variety of factors, including the country's regulations and overall interest rates for lending and saving, as well as the financial institution's size and number of channels of access offered. This is why a direct bank can afford to offer low-cost or free banking, as well as why in some countries, transaction fees do not exist but extremely high lending rates are the norm.

Financial transaction fees may be charged either per item or for a flat rate covering a certain number of transactions. Often, youths, students, senior citizens or high-valued customers do not pay fees for basic financial transactions. Some will offer free transactions for maintaining a very high average balance in their account. Other service charges are applicable for overdraft, non-sufficient funds, the use of an external interbank network, etc. In countries where there are no service charges for transaction fees, there are, on the other hand, other recurring service charges such as a debit card annual fee.

Interest

Main article: Interest

Unlike savings accounts, for which the primary reason for depositing money is to generate interest, the main function of a transactional account is transactional. Therefore, most providers either pay no interest or pay a low level of interest on credit balances.

Current accounts

A current account is the form of transactional account found in the United Kingdom and other countries with a UK banking heritage; a current account offers various flexible payment methods to allow customers to distribute money directly to others. Most current accounts come with a cheque book and offer the facility to arrange standing orders, direct debits and payment via a debit card. Current accounts may also allow borrowing via an overdraft facility.

Lending

Current accounts have two different ways in which money can be lent: overdraft and offset mortgage.

Overdraft

Main article: Overdraft

In the UK, virtually all current accounts offer a pre-agreed overdraft facility the size of which is based upon affordability and credit history. This overdraft facility can be used at any time without consulting the bank and can be maintained indefinitely (subject to ad hoc reviews). Although an overdraft facility may be authorised, technically the money is repayable on demand by the bank. In reality this is a rare occurrence as the overdrafts are profitable for the bank and expensive for the customer.

Offset mortgage

Main article: Offset mortgage

An offset mortgage was a type of mortgage common in the United Kingdom used for the purchase of domestic property, the key principle is the reduction of interest charged by "offsetting" a credit balance against the mortgage debt. This can be achieved via one of two methods: either lenders provide a single account for all transactions (often referred to as a current account mortgage) or they make multiple accounts available which allow the borrowers to notionally split their money according to purpose whilst all accounts are offset each day against the mortgage debt.

Interest

Main article: Interest

In the UK some online banks offer rates as high as many savings accounts along with free banking (no charges for transactions) as institutions which offer centralised services (telephone, internet or postal based) tend to pay higher levels of interest. The same holds true for banks within the EURO currency zone.

See also

Transaction related

Account type related

Notes

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