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Retail Banking vs. Commercial Banking: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 2, 2023
Retail banking offers financial services to individuals, while commercial banking provides services to businesses and corporations.

Key Differences

Retail banking refers to the provision of financial services by banks to individual consumers, rather than to companies, corporations, or other banks. Services include personal checking and savings accounts, mortgages, and personal loans. Commercial banking, on the other hand, caters to the needs of businesses and corporations. It offers services such as business loans, asset management, and commercial real estate financing.
In retail banking, the focus is on the individual consumer and their personal financial needs. This includes services like credit cards, personal wealth management, and retirement planning. Commercial banking is more focused on helping businesses manage their finances, including services like treasury and cash management, trade financing, and employer services.
Retail banking tends to have a more extensive branch network to cater to individual customers in various locations. This includes ATMs and local branches. Commercial banking often operates through fewer locations but with a more specialized focus, providing tailored services to businesses of different sizes and sectors.
The risk profile in retail banking is generally spread across a large number of individual accounts, which can include small-scale loans and consumer credit. In commercial banking, the risks are often concentrated in larger loan amounts and investments, which can involve significant sums of money and more complex risk assessments.
Retail banking is typically characterized by a high volume of smaller transactions, making personal customer service and accessibility important. In commercial banking, the transactions are usually larger and fewer, with a greater emphasis on personalized, specialist services for businesses.

Comparison Chart

Primary Customers


Service Focus

Personal finance
Business finance

Loan Types

Mortgages, personal loans
Business loans, commercial real estate loans

Risk Profile

Diversified across many small accounts
Concentrated in larger business accounts

Branch Network

Widespread, numerous locations
More specialized, fewer locations

Retail Banking and Commercial Banking Definitions

Retail Banking

Retail banking encompasses personal checking and savings accounts.
His retail banking account helped him manage his daily finances.

Commercial Banking

Commercial banking provides financial services to businesses and corporations.
The company expanded with the help of commercial banking loans.

Retail Banking

Retail banking includes wealth management and retirement planning for individuals.
He relied on retail banking for his retirement savings plan.

Commercial Banking

Commercial banking offers specialized services like trade financing and treasury management.
Their export business thrived thanks to commercial banking's trade financing options.

Retail Banking

Retail banking offers personal loans and credit facilities.
She used retail banking services to finance her car.

Commercial Banking

Commercial banking caters to the financial needs of small to large enterprises.
Commercial banking provided the startup with the necessary capital.

Retail Banking

Retail banking involves the distribution of financial products like credit cards to consumers.
Retail banking made it easy for her to get a credit card.

Commercial Banking

Commercial banking plays a key role in corporate investment and financial advisory services.
The firm's expansion was strategically planned with commercial banking advice.

Retail Banking

Retail banking is the provision of banking services to individual consumers.
Through retail banking, she got her first mortgage.

Commercial Banking

Commercial banking includes services like business loans and asset management.
Commercial banking helped them manage their company's assets efficiently.


What is retail banking?

It's banking services provided to individual consumers, such as savings accounts and personal loans.

Do commercial banks offer services to individuals?

Primarily, they cater to businesses, but some commercial banks also have retail banking divisions.

What are the main services of commercial banking?

It includes business loans, asset management, and corporate financial services.

Is mobile banking a part of retail banking?

Yes, mobile banking is a key component of modern retail banking.

Is personal loan refinancing a retail banking service?

Yes, refinancing personal loans is a service provided in retail banking.

Can commercial banks assist in business expansions?

Yes, through loans and financial planning, they can aid in expansion.

Do retail banks issue credit cards?

Yes, issuing credit cards is a common service in retail banking.

Can commercial banks help with international trade?

Yes, they offer trade financing and currency exchange services.

How do commercial banks support businesses?

They provide loans, financial advice, and services like treasury management.

Can retail banking include wealth management?

Yes, it often includes personal wealth management and retirement planning.

What type of loans do commercial banks offer?

They offer business loans, commercial real estate loans, and lines of credit for businesses.

Do commercial banks provide financial advisory?

Yes, they often offer financial and investment advice to businesses.

Are merchant services a part of commercial banking?

Yes, they provide merchant and payment services to businesses.

Are retail banking services available online?

Yes, most retail banking services are now accessible online.

How does retail banking benefit consumers?

It provides accessible financial services, like loans and account management.

Can commercial banks manage business payrolls?

Yes, many offer payroll management services for businesses.

Are savings accounts part of retail banking?

Yes, savings accounts are a basic offering in retail banking.

Do retail banks offer mortgage services?

Yes, providing mortgages is a key service in retail banking.

Is financial planning offered in retail banking?

Retail banking includes financial planning and advisory for individuals.

What differentiates commercial banking from retail?

Commercial banking focuses on businesses, while retail serves individual consumers.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited 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.

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