Banks today can be seen everywhere. Having your own bank account is not considered something bizarre today, but very much a necessity. There are so many processes involved when you deposit money into your account or when you choose to withdraw some. Today, in this relatively fast paced technological world, everything is done through computers, making bundles of papers and files a thing of the past. Most people rely on a bank for meeting their needs in old age. How did banks themselves originate and when did they become so important to us?
The answer lies not in today’s world, but in yesterday’s. It is surprising to note that banking came before coins were invented. It is believed that banking first originated in Ancient Mesopotamia where there were secure rooms in palaces and temples so that ordinary men could store their grain and other commodities.
Today banks are of different kinds. They can be central banks, investment banks, private banks, commercial banks, retail banks, global banks and offshore banks- each with its own purpose and importance in the conduct of business. On the whole, the main functions of a bank involve borrowing money from other banks, allowing customers to open accounts with them, lending out money and issuing financial instruments in the money market. Moreover, banks also issue credit cards, allow customers to open lockers with them, have online banking facilities, allow personal banking and investment banking. Banks make their profits by charging interest on loans given out by them, and by charging a small commission or transaction fee on any financial transaction that is carried out.
So what services can you avail of from a bank? First of all, you can open a personal or savings account with them, you could deposit or withdraw money when you choose through a cheque or an atm card, if you have a lot of valuables you could open a locker with the bank, money can be transferred from one account to the other, or can even be wired. Banks today try to be as user friendly as possible, which is why they give a standard kit when you open an account with them. The kit normally includes a debit card for withdrawal of money, a cheque book with 20 leaves, and some information on how to conduct online banking and phone banking with your id and pin number. Today, online and phone banking are considered the most common ways to access your account. It works well for the bank cutting down on needless paperwork, and gives you the freedom to access accounts at your will. Moreover, banks also have customer service desks to clear any questions you might have about the bank and services offered.
In addition, to the above opening an account with a bank offers you other advantages. Firstly, you now have a safe place to keep your money, and can withdraw it when you please. Secondly, if the need arises you would also be able to apply for a loan of any kind including a mortgage. Also, having an account also means that the chances of being financed by another institution would increase. Thirdly, it is easier to clear your monthly bills through direct debits from your personal account. Although, opening a bank account is good for you, there are some points which must be remembered for a safe banking experience.
- Make sure that any official communication which comes from the bank is read carefully by you. If it is important, save it in a file, and if not then simply shred it properly and throw it away.
- Although banking online is the most preferred method of banking because of the ease and convenience it offers, remember that it is the one way in which maximum fraud can occur. Your personal id and pin should never be revealed to anybody else on account of being misused. Don’t even try writing it down somewhere for safekeeping. Also, ensuring that you have the latest anti virus packs and firewalls installed would help in making online transactions safer. But try not to use your debit card for everything on the net.
- There are many sites, which promise big rewards if you give out personal details like your account number, pin etc to them. Stay clear of such sites as they will only cause you more harm than good. Avoiding answering any questions about your personal cards or account , should be done at all costs. If a bank wanted to know these details it would simply get in touch with you.
- Make sure that you use your ATM card carefully. Do not leave it at the ATM machine and also make sure that there is nobody standing behind you when you withdraw or deposit money. Changing your password on a regular basis would also ensure that chances of misuse are greatly reduced.