A retail bank is a bank which offers financial services to the general public. This sets it apart from private banks – which only service select clients – and central banks – which only service financial services providers.
Retail banks may be universal banks which offer a broad range of services, or they may be specialized in a certain category of banking, such as personal loans, business loans, mortgages, savings, money transfers or securities brokerage.
Some universal banks, including large Swiss banks like Credit Suisse and UBS, have retail banking and private banking divisions.
Some of the services which may be offered by retail banks in Switzerland are private accounts, savings accounts, business accounts, 3a retirement accounts, currency exchange, precious metal exchange, payment card issuance, personal loans, mortgages, Lombard loans, business loans, money transfers, check issuance and cashing, safe deposit boxes, investment funds, custody accounts and securities brokerage.
In Switzerland, retail banks are supervised by regulatory authority FINMA and participate in the depositor protection scheme operated by Esisuisse. They are governed by the Swiss Federal Act on Banks and Savings Banks, which defines bank customer confidentiality among other things.