Noncredit Services

What Are Noncredit Services?

The term noncredit services refers to fee-based services provided by financial institutions to their customers that don't involve the extension of credit. Banks and other institutions provide noncredit services to both individual and commercial clients. Some of these services include bank accounts, asset management services, payroll processing, merchant services, and underwriting. Income generated from noncredit services can be a significant source of revenue for banks and can limit the erosion of profitability when net interest margins are squeezed in a declining interest rate environment.

Key Takeaways

  • Noncredit services are banking services or financial products offered to bank customers that do not involve the extension of credit.
  • The traditional banking model generated profits based on the spread between the interest rates charged on loans granted and the lower rate of interest credited to depositors.
  • Nonbaking services have risen in prominence to become a key profit center for many banks, for which charge commissions or flat fees.
  • These may include account services, payments processing, investments, savings, and insurance products, among others.

Understanding Noncredit Services

Banks traditionally make money on the net interest rate spread between lending to customers through loans and that credited to depositors. Historically, the basic profitability model of a bank has therefore been to lend to customers at X% and pay them some lower interest rate Y% on deposits held at the bank. The difference between X% and Y% is the spread that brings money to the bottom line.

However, another pillar of profitability has developed for banks, that does not involve using the balance sheet to generate income. Various noncredit services for retail and corporate customers are routinely offered by banks to their customers. For retail customers, such services often include debit card processing, stock trading or brokerage accounts, and asset management. This is, of course, on top of checking, savings, and other accounts banks offer.

Fee income is also derived from noncredit services. This includes the revenue taken in from account-related charges such as nonsufficient funds (NSF) fees, overdraft charges, late fees, over-limit feeswire transfer fees, monthly service charges, and account research fees, among others.

You may be able to avoid maintenance charges by maintaining a monthly minimum balance in your bank account.

For small businesses and larger corporate entities, noncredit services include cash management, payroll processing, merchant transactions, mergers and acquisition (M&A) advisory or other corporate finance services, loan syndication, and insurance underwriting. These services collectively produce commissions and fees for a bank. In such cases, not a single dollar needs to be loaned out to increase profitability.

Example of Noncredit Services

Citigroup recorded approximately $27 billion in noncredit service income in 2017, roughly 60% of its net interest revenue (interest revenue minus interest expense, or the spread in terms of dollar amount). The bank derived a majority of the noncredit service income from commissions and fees described above while the balance came from administration and fiduciary fees.

The income from noncredit services for the bank has provided a measure of stability to overall earnings during a period of suppressed interest rates as a result of quantitative easing policies by the Federal Reserve Bank. Net interest revenues had declined from around $47 billion in 2015 to about $45 billion in 2017, but contributions from noncredit services more or less held steady.

Article Sources
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  1. Citigroup. "2017 Annual Report," Pages 10, 154. Accessed Feb. 2, 2021.

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