The UK banking system is unusual in that it offers ‘free banking’ to its retail customers, free that is so long as the account is kept in credit. Most other countries make charges for all types of banking services such as money transfers or using an ATM, or simply a monthly service charge for the account. However UK banks make up for this free banking through selling known customers other services, by charging for unauthorised overdrafts, and charging fees for corporate banking.
UK banks have their roots in goldsmith banking dating back to the sixteenth century. When people deposited their gold the goldsmith issued a receipt, and this piece of paper could be traded and used as credit. Private banks (limited to six partners) ...