The Indian banking System | Types of Banks in India: Commercial, NBFCs & Development Banks

The Indian banking sector plays a pivotal role in the country’s economic development, and understanding the types of banks in India is crucial, especially for those preparing for the prestigious Indian Administrative Services (IAS) examination. In addition to commercial banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), India also has development banks that cater to specific sectors. This article explores the different types of banks in India, shedding light on their functions, significance, and their connection to IAS preparation. Furthermore, another important topic for IAS aspirants, namely the major ports in India, which have a significant impact on the country’s trade and commerce.

Introduction – The Indian banking

Banks play a crucial role in mobilizing savings, providing credit, facilitating payments, and promoting economic growth. The Indian banking is regulated and supervised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central banking institution of the country. Let’s delve into the various types of banks found in India. The significance of the types of banks in India as a topic for IAS preparation is a step towards achieving success in the examination and contributing effectively to India’s governance and progress.

Commercial Banks

Commercial banks are the most common type of banks operating in India. They offer a wide range of financial services to individuals, businesses, and industries. Commercial banks can be further categorized into:

Public Sector Banks

The Indian banking sector are owned and controlled by the government. They play a vital role in providing banking services to the masses, especially in rural and remote areas. Examples of public sector banks include State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB), and Bank of Baroda (BOB).

Private Sector Banks

Private sector banks are owned by private individuals or corporations. These banks operate on a profit motive and are known for their efficiency, innovation, and customer-centric approach. Popular private sector banks in India include HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Axis Bank.


Foreign Banks

Foreign banks have a presence in India through their branches or subsidiaries. They bring in global expertise and international standards to the Indian banking sector. These banks cater to the needs of multinational corporations, high-net-worth individuals, and international trade. Examples of foreign banks in India include Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, and HSBC.

Regional Rural Banks

Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) are specialized banks that primarily focus on providing banking services in rural and semi-urban areas. RRBs are established with the partnership of the central government, state government, and sponsor banks. They play a crucial role in promoting financial inclusion and rural development.

Cooperative Banks

Cooperative banks are financial institutions owned and operated by their members. They function on the principle of cooperation and mutual assistance. Cooperative banks can be further classified into:

Urban Cooperative Banks

Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) operate in urban and semi-urban areas. They are formed and run by members residing in these areas. UCBs provide banking services to individuals, small businesses, and local communities. They contribute to the development of urban areas by supporting small-scale industries, trade, and commerce.

State Cooperative Banks

State Cooperative Banks (SCBs) are apex institutions at the state level. They provide financial services to various cooperative societies, such as agricultural credit societies, dairy societies, and marketing societies. SCBs play a crucial role in agricultural development by offering credit facilities, including crop loans, farm equipment financing, and rural infrastructure development.

District Central Cooperative Banks

District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) operate at the district level and act as a bridge between SCBs and primary agricultural credit societies. DCCBs play a vital role in rural credit delivery, especially to farmers and agricultural communities. They provide loans for agricultural activities, crop marketing, and rural housing.

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Development Banks

Development banks are specialized financial institutions that focus on promoting industrial and economic development in the country. They provide long-term financing, technical assistance, and other support to specific sectors. In India, notable development banks include:

Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI)

IDBI was established with the objective of providing financial assistance to industrial projects and promoting industrial growth in the country. It offers term loans, working capital finance, and advisory services to large and medium-sized industries. IDBI plays a crucial role in supporting infrastructure development, manufacturing, and export-oriented industries.

Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank)

EXIM Bank facilitates international trade by providing financial assistance and advisory services to exporters and importers. It offers export credit, export guarantees, and export-related research and information. EXIM Bank plays a vital role in promoting India’s exports and fostering economic relations with other countries.

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)

SIDBI focuses on the development of small-scale industries and entrepreneurship. It provides financial products and services, including loans, equity funding, and venture capital, to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). SIDBI plays a significant role in promoting innovation, technology adoption, and job creation in the MSME sector.

Payment Banks

Payment banks are a recent addition to the Indian banking landscape. They are licensed by the RBI to provide basic banking services, primarily focused on payments and remittances. Payment banks enable individuals to open savings accounts, make transactions, and transfer funds electronically. However, they cannot offer credit facilities or issue loans. Some prominent payment banks in India are Paytm Payments Bank, Airtel Payments Bank, and India Post Payments Bank.

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Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)

Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that provide a wide range of banking services without holding a banking license. They play a crucial role in meeting the diverse financial needs of individuals and businesses. NBFCs can be further classified into:

Asset Finance Companies (AFCs)

AFCs specialize in providing financing for the purchase of assets such as vehicles, machinery, and equipment. They offer loans and lease options to individuals and businesses for asset acquisition. AFCs play a vital role in supporting economic activities by facilitating capital investments.

Loan Companies (LCs)

LCs focus on providing various types of loans, including personal loans, business loans, and education loans. They cater to the credit requirements of individuals, self-employed professionals, and small businesses. LCs offer flexible lending options and simplified loan approval processes.

Investment Companies (ICs)

ICs primarily engage in investment activities such as portfolio management, securities trading, and investment advisory services. They help individuals and organizations make informed investment decisions and optimize their investment portfolios. ICs contribute to the overall growth and stability of the financial markets.


In conclusion, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the types of banks in India is of utmost importance for aspirants preparing for the prestigious IAS examination. Commercial banks, NBFCs, and development banks each have their distinct roles and functions within the Indian banking system, influencing various sectors of the economy. The knowledge of these banking institutions not only enhances one’s financial literacy but also provides a solid foundation for addressing questions related to banking and finance in the IAS examination. By grasping the nuances of these institutions, aspiring civil servants can exhibit a deeper understanding of India’s economic landscape, enabling them to make informed decisions and contribute to the country’s growth and development.

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