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Central Banks in India vs. Commercial Banks in India: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 5, 2024
India's central bank (RBI) regulates monetary policy and banking system stability, while commercial banks provide banking services like loans and deposits to the public.

Key Differences

Central banks in India, specifically the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), primarily focus on formulating and implementing monetary policy, maintaining financial stability, and regulating and supervising the banking sector. Commercial banks in India, such as HDFC, ICICI, and State Bank of India, provide banking services to the public, including accepting deposits, offering loans, and facilitating financial transactions.
The central bank in India plays a crucial role in controlling the nation's money supply and inflation levels, and acting as the banker to the government. Commercial banks drive economic growth by lending to businesses and individuals, thus facilitating investment and consumption.
The central bank of India is a statutory body, part of the government's financial structure, and its top management is appointed by the government. Commercial banks can be either publicly owned, private sector banks, or foreign banks operating in India, with management determined by their board of directors and stakeholders.
The RBI, as the central bank, holds the authority to regulate and supervise other banks in India, including commercial banks, ensuring the health and efficiency of the financial system. Commercial banks are subject to these regulations and are accountable to the RBI for their operations.
One of the exclusive functions of the RBI as a central bank is issuing currency notes and managing the country's foreign exchange and gold reserves. Commercial banks do not have the authority to issue currency; their role includes currency distribution and exchange services.

Comparison Chart

Primary Role

Monetary policy, financial stability, banking regulation
Providing banking services to public

Function in Economy

Control money supply, manage inflation
Facilitate investments and transactions


Government entity
Public, private, or foreign entities

Regulatory Authority

Regulator of banking sector
Regulated by central bank

Currency Issuance

Issues and manages currency
Distributes but does not issue currency

Central Banks in India and Commercial Banks in India Definitions

Central Banks in India

The RBI is the banker to the Indian government.
The government secured funds from the RBI for a developmental project.

Commercial Banks in India

Commercial banks offer payment and transaction services.
Customers used State Bank of India's online services for bill payments.

Central Banks in India

It manages India's foreign exchange and gold reserves.
The RBI intervened in the foreign exchange market to stabilize the rupee.

Commercial Banks in India

Commercial banks invest funds in various financial markets.
Yes Bank invested in government securities for steady returns.

Central Banks in India

It supervises all banking operations in India.
The RBI introduced new regulations to enhance banking security.

Commercial Banks in India

Commercial banks in India accept deposits from the public.
HDFC Bank offers various savings account options for depositors.

Central Banks in India

The central bank in India, RBI, regulates the country's monetary policy.
The RBI adjusted interest rates to manage inflation.

Commercial Banks in India

They play a key role in the country’s payment system.
Axis Bank introduced advanced digital payment solutions.

Central Banks in India

The RBI issues and controls the nation's currency.
The RBI released new currency notes with enhanced security features.

Commercial Banks in India

They provide loans and credit facilities to customers.
ICICI Bank financed small businesses with customized loan options.


How does the RBI influence inflation?

Through monetary policy tools like interest rates and reserve requirements.

Who governs the central bank in India?

Its governance is overseen by the Government of India.

What is the role of the RBI in government finance?

It acts as the banker and debt manager for the government.

Is the RBI involved in currency exchange?

Yes, it manages and regulates foreign exchange markets.

What’s the difference in ownership of central and commercial banks?

The RBI is a government entity, while commercial banks can be privately or publicly owned.

What services do commercial banks in India offer?

Deposits, loans, payment services, and investment products.

Do commercial banks in India operate internationally?

Yes, many have branches and operations abroad.

Can individuals open accounts with the RBI?

No, the RBI does not offer commercial banking services.

How do commercial banks manage foreign currency transactions?

They offer exchange services under the guidelines set by the RBI.

What is the main function of India's central bank?

Managing monetary policy and regulating the banking sector.

Can commercial banks in India issue currency?

No, only the RBI can issue currency.

How does the RBI control bank liquidity?

Through tools like repo rate, reverse repo rate, and CRR.

What impact do commercial banks have on the stock market?

Their investment and lending decisions can influence market dynamics.

How do commercial banks contribute to economic growth?

By lending to businesses and individuals, fueling investment and spending.

Can the RBI directly loan money to individuals?

No, it does not engage in retail banking activities.

How does the RBI support financial stability?

By overseeing and ensuring the health of the banking sector.

How does the RBI deal with troubled banks?

It can intervene, restructure, or facilitate mergers.

Do commercial banks in India help with monetary policy?

Indirectly, by complying with RBI directives and regulations.

Do commercial banks in India have a role in policy-making?

No, they follow policies set by the RBI and government.

Can commercial banks create their own monetary policies?

No, they operate under the policies set by the RBI.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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