Correspondent Meaning: What Is a Correspondent Bank?

In this article, we’re breaking down the correspondent meaning in banking.

This will include a description of what correspondent banks are, how they operate, the services they provide, and how to open accounts.

This article is part of our series on banking basics, ranging from opening different types of bank accounts around the world to understanding how various aspects of the banking system operate.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Correspondent Meaning
  2. What Are Correspondent Banks?
  3. How to Open Bank Accounts With Correspondent Banks?
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?

Correspondent Meaning

Correspondent meaning in banking is that of a financial institution with a role to provide services to another bank with whom it has a relationship. In doing so, the correspondent bank acts as an intermediary in transactions, facilitating wire transfers, supporting trade finance, and offering “nostro” and “vostro” accounts.

In short, the definition of a correspondent bank is one that supports the cross-border transactions of another bank.

What Are Correspondent Banks?

Correspondent banks are banks that offer financial accounts and banking services to other financial institutions. The specific accounts that they offer are intended to facilitate transactions, settle foreign currency exchange, support trade finance, and hold foreign currencies.

Examples of Correspondent Banks

Examples of correspondent banks include major financial institutions in jurisdictions where they issue their own currency, including:

  • JP Morgan
  • Citigroup
  • Bank of America
  • HSBC
  • Wells Fargo
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Lloyds Bank
  • Standard Chartered
  • BNP Paribas

Who Are the Largest Correspondent Banks?

The three largest correspondent banks are JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and HSBC in terms of correspondent size, meaning how many banks they serve.

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How to Open Bank Accounts With Correspondent Banks?

To open bank accounts with a correspondent bank, you will first need to have a qualifying financial institution, meaning a bank that can pass the due diligence of a correspondent. Importantly, simply having a banking license or any other deposit-taking license does not immediately qualify you to open a correspondent bank account.

Our team has successfully helped financial institutions navigate the complexities of opening correspondent accounts in the past. For small financial institutions, it is an intensive process that requires careful planning and execution.

Needless to say, it is very difficult for small financial institutions in obscure jurisdictions to obtain correspondent accounts. So, before obtaining a banking license, it’s important that you think through this hurdle as it can result in not being able to process transactions, meaning the bank could not accept customers.

What Are the Different Types of Correspondent Accounts?

There are different types of correspondent accounts available, the main accounts that financial institutions can open include settlement accounts, “nostro” and “vostro” accounts, cash management accounts, trade finance accounts, clearing accounts, and foreign currency accounts.

The account opened will depend on the financial institution you operate, the services you require, and the banks that are willing to open an account for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few of the most common questions we receive from people looking into the meaning of correspondent. If you have further questions you would like to ask our team, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

What Is the Full Meaning of Correspondent in Banking?

The full meaning of “correspondent” in banking is a financial institution that provides bank account services to other banks and financial institutions. These services include supporting transactions and enabling foreign exchange.

Which Banks Are Correspondent Banks?

Correspondent banks are large financial institutions that offer account services to other banks, especially those from foreign jurisdictions. Correspondent banks support transactions, provide access to foreign currency clearing, and provide a means for smaller banks to connect to the global financial markets.

What Is an Example of a Correspondent Account?

An example of a correspondent bank account is an account held by a small Caribbean bank with a large bank in the United States. For example, a small bank in Saint Lucia may have a correspondent bank account with Citigroup in the United States. This correspondent account would facilitate the sending and receiving of USD transfers to and from customer accounts. At the same time, the same bank in Saint Lucia may also have a correspondent bank account with Deutsche Bank in Germany, facilitating the clearing of EUR transactions.

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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