10 Difference between Commercial Bank and Merchant Bank (With Table)

What is the main difference between commercial bank and merchant bank? Commercial banks deal with the general public and companies that accepts deposit and withdrawal. Merchant banks deal with investment avenues and commercial loans.

Banks are financial institutions that act as intermediaries between depositors and borrowers. They also provide value added services apart from accepting deposits and withdrawals. Different types of banks provide different functions.

Merchant banks are similar to investment banks. But they do not provide regular banking services to the general public. This article provides detailed differences between commercial and merchant banks for better understanding.

Difference between Commercial Bank and Merchant Bank with Table

Basic Terms Commercial Bank Merchant Bank
Primary Function Provide a wide range of banking services to the general public, including accepting deposits, lending, and offering retail banking services. Primarily engage in corporate and investment banking, serving businesses, governments, and high-net-worth individuals.
Target Customers Serve individual customers, including retail and small business clients. Focus on corporate clients, institutional investors, and high-net-worth individuals.
Deposits          Accept deposits from the public, including savings and checking accounts. Typically, do not accept deposits from the general public but may hold deposits on behalf of clients in the form of fixed deposits.
Lending Extend loans and credit to individuals and businesses for various purposes. Provide advisory services for mergers, acquisitions, and capital raising but do not engage in traditional retail lending.
Investment Activities Primarily invest in government and corporate securities, mortgages, and consumer loans. Engage in investment banking activities, such as underwriting, mergers and acquisitions, and managing portfolios for clients.
Regulatory Oversight Subject to rigorous regulatory oversight due to their retail banking activities, including deposit insurance. Also regulated but subject to fewer restrictions related to retail banking, focusing more on investment and financial services.
Risk Exposure Tend to have lower risk exposure due to diversified retail portfolios. May have higher risk exposure related to investment banking activities and trading.
Profit Sources Generate income through interest margins, fees, and retail banking services. Earn fees from advisory services, underwriting, and investment management.
Retail Services Offer services like checking and savings accounts, mortgages, and personal loans. Typically do not offer retail banking services but provide tailored financial solutions to businesses.
Geographic Presence Geographic Presence Often have a more limited physical presence, with a focus on major financial centers.

What Is Commercial Bank?

A commercial bank is a financial institution that provides a wide range of banking services and financial products to the general public, businesses, and other organizations.

These services typically include accepting deposits from customers, providing various types of loans, facilitating payments and transfers, and offering a variety of financial products such as savings accounts, checking accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and credit cards.

Commercial banks play a pivotal role in the economy by channeling funds from depositors to borrowers, thus facilitating economic activities and growth.

They also serve as intermediaries between individuals or businesses in need of financial services and the broader financial system. Commercial banks are subject to strict regulatory oversight to ensure the safety of deposited funds and the stability of the banking system.

What Is Merchant Bank?

A merchant bank, also known as an investment bank or corporate bank, is a financial institution that primarily focuses on providing specialized financial services to corporations, governments, institutional investors, and high-net-worth individuals.

Unlike commercial banks that cater to the general public, merchant banks specialize in corporate and investment banking activities.

Merchant banks offer a wide range of services, including advisory services for mergers and acquisitions, capital raising through the issuance of stocks and bonds, managing assets and portfolios, and providing strategic financial guidance.

They play a crucial role in facilitating complex financial transactions and helping businesses access capital markets. Merchant banks are typically involved in activities such as underwriting securities, trading in stocks and bonds, and offering financial advice on strategic business decisions.

They often work with clients on a one-on-one basis to tailor financial solutions to meet specific corporate or investment objectives.

Main Difference between Commercial Bank and Merchant Bank

  1. A commercial bank serves as a financial intermediary offering basic banking services, such as deposit acceptance and credit issuance to the public. In contrast, merchant banks specialize in supporting large enterprises in international trade and providing diverse products and services.
  2. Commercial banks operate under the regulatory framework of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, while merchant banks adhere to rules and regulations set by SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India).
  3. Commercial banks primarily engage in traditional banking services, while merchant banks excel in consultancy and advisory services.
  4. Commercial banks provide debt-related loans, whereas merchant banks offer equity-related loans.
  5. Commercial banks tend to have lower risk exposure compared to merchant banks, which face higher levels of risk.
  6. Commercial banks function as financiers, while merchant banks serve as financial advisors.
  7. Commercial banks cater to the general public’s needs, while merchant banks primarily serve multinational corporations and high-net-worth individuals.

Similarities between Commercial Bank and Merchant Bank

  1. Both are financial institutions.
  2. They offer banking and financial services.
  3. Both may engage in lending activities.
  4. Both are regulated by financial authorities.
  5. They contribute to the overall financial system.


Commercial banks and merchant banks are distinct entities within the financial sector, each with its unique roles and focus. Commercial banks primarily cater to the general public, providing a wide range of traditional banking services, while merchant banks specialize in serving large enterprises, offering specialized financial advisory and investment services.

These differences in their clientele, functions, and regulatory frameworks highlight their divergent paths in the financial industry. Nevertheless, both types of banks play pivotal roles in the overall stability and functioning of the financial system, contributing to the economic well-being of nations by facilitating capital flow and financial transactions in their respective domains.

People Who Read This Also Read:

  • Difference between Abstract and Introduction
  • Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism
  • Difference between EFT and ACH
  • Difference between Essay and Report

Leave a Comment