Bank balance

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Bank balances (also bank deposits or deposits ) is the colloquial collective term for claims of non-banks against credit institutions . It is book money on bank accounts that can be converted into cash at any time or used for investments or payment transactions .


From the bank customer's point of view, these are credit balances . The term “credit” includes sight deposits , time deposits and savings deposits at banks . These are unsecuritized deposits, so savings bonds are not included. Depending on the type of account, a distinction is made between account balances on current , call money , time deposit or savings accounts . Bank balances are book money that is intended and suitable to be used for payment or savings purposes. Book money can be converted into cash by withdrawing cash , and cash by depositing cash into bank balances.

Legal bases

According to Section 1 Paragraph 1 Sentence 2 No. 1 KWG , the commercial acceptance of third-party funds as deposits or other unconditionally repayable funds from the public, unless the repayment claim is evidenced in bearer or order bonds , regardless of whether interest is paid ( deposit transaction ), to banking transactions that require a license . This protects the acceptance of third-party funds and makes it subject to the BaFin banking supervisory authority. According to Section 37 KWG, BaFin can order the immediate cessation of business operations and the reversal of banking transactions if the business is conducted without a permit. For this reason, only credit institutions are allowed to accept bank balances, whereby the permission granted to them must explicitly refer to this. BaFin has issued precise instructions on the interpretation of deposit business as a banking business. According to this, monies are to be regarded as "repayable" if there is a civil law claim to their repayment (e.g. as a loan according to Section 488 (1) BGB ). According to the constant administrative practice of BaFin, funds from “institutional investors”, namely from credit institutions, capital investment companies and insurance companies licensed in Germany, do not fall under the term “public”. A company then accepts third-party funds as “deposits” if, on the basis of standardized contracts, loans or similar funds are continuously accepted from a large number of donors, which by their nature are not collateralized according to the usual banking practice. Deposits are in any case such third-party funds that are continuously accepted to companies from several donors who are not credit institutions for irregular custody, as a loan or in a similar way without the provision of standard bank securities and without a written agreement in individual cases to finance lending business aimed at profit. A volume that requires a commercially set up business operation is assumed in the case of deposit business in constant administrative practice, if

  • the stock of more than five individual investments exceeds the total of € 12,500 or
  • there are more than 25 individual deposits regardless of the total amount of deposits.

When a bank balance is created or created , a contract under the law of obligations in the form of a loan agreement in accordance with Section 488 of the German Civil Code or an irregular custody agreement in accordance with Section 700 (1) of the German Civil Code (also referred to as “improper custody” or “depositum irregular”) is concluded - usually by implication . The legal classification of a bank balance as a loan or improper custody depends on whether the focus is on the customer's “overriding safekeeping interests” or a financial investment. Bank balances arise in the predominant interest of the bank customer. This legal distinction has no practical effect, because improper safekeeping in the case of bank balances is considered a loan.

While a credit balance of the bank customer represents a claim from irregular custody according to § 700 BGB, the debit balance is a loan liability within the meaning of § 488 BGB. Payments into and out of the current account are therefore usually also acts to establish or fulfill the stated obligations or individual obligations arising from them. In the case of current accounts with credit balances, cash payments represent the return of the money held for the customer ( § 688 BGB) and cash deposits represent the surrender of the money to be kept ( § 700 BGB); In the case of accounts with debit balances, cash payments are to be regarded as loan payments, cash payments as loan repayments (§§ 488 ff. BGB). In the case of credit, the customer is entitled to a payment. It is the right of reclamation in the sense of irregular storage (§§ 700 Paragraph 1 Sentence 3, § 695 Sentence 1 BGB). Sight deposits are an obligation to collect , so that the place of performance is the counter hall of the account-keeping branch. Although it is monetary debts, § 270 Paragraph 1 BGB does not apply to the sending debts for sight deposits, but only for time and savings deposits because they qualify as loans (§ 488 BGB).

The EU directive on deposit guarantee systems understands in Art. 2 Para. 1 No. 3 as “a credit balance that arises from amounts remaining in an account or from intermediate positions in the context of normal banking transactions and is to be repaid by the credit institution in accordance with the applicable legal and contractual conditions including a fixed-term deposit and a savings deposit ”. In addition to cash and current accounts at the Deutsche Bundesbank, bank balances constitute a third form of money in the legal sense. Because by bank transfer , direct debit and payment cards which occurs fulfillment of obligations on (by crediting the creditor power in lieu ).

Types and delimitations

Under banking law, bank balances are differentiated according to their time limit and thus their availability. Forms of investment such as savings deposits or savings (till) letters and savings (till) obligations are not counted as bank balances in the narrower sense. In particular, savings bank letters and savings (bank) bonds are not part of the deposit business according to the above legal definition .

Sight deposits

If no time limit has been agreed or if the investments are available to the bank customer at any time or if the term or notice period is less than one month, one speaks of sight deposits , also known as deposits due on demand. They are usually created on current accounts or are posted to specific call money accounts. The bank customer can dispose of this at any time without having to notify the bank beforehand. They serve both for payment transactions and as a reserve for unexpected liquidity bottlenecks at bank customers. Experience has shown, however, that part of the sight deposits is not available and remains in the accounts as a deposit as a long-term investment. Because this form of investment is available at any time, it does not receive any interest or only very little interest from banks.

Temporary deposits

In the case of fixed-term deposits, however, an agreement was made with the credit institution before they were made, according to which the term or notice period should be at least one month. During this period, an early disposal of limited deposits is usually not permitted or is threatened with penalty interest. Fixed-term deposits include fixed-term deposits for which a specific term of at least one month has been agreed, as well as termination deposits for which a notice period of at least one month has been agreed. While fixed-term deposits can be accessed after the investment period has expired, the bank customer must first wait for the notice period to expire in the case of termination deposits. In general, the temporary deposits are counted among the bank balances.

Interbank balances

In interbank trading , credit institutions often maintain bilateral reciprocal account connections on which there may also be credit. Nostro balances represent balances on the account of the account-keeping bank ( nostro account ) with other, also foreign institutes ( correspondent banks ). They arise “in dealings with affiliated institutes as credit balances from current business transactions or through voluntary contributions of temporarily excess operating reserves”. Accordingly, from the point of view of the balancing bank, loro balances are claims against other credit institutions “as a result of an overdraft of the loro account or a requested loan”.


According to Section 266 (2) B IV of the German Commercial Code ( HGB) , bank balances with non-banks reporting on the balance sheet are to be capitalized as “credit balances with banks” . In addition, there is a ban on offsetting in accordance with Section 246 of the German Commercial Code (HGB) for bank balances and bank liabilities . Under commercial law, bank balances belong to the current assets , which serve as a liquidity reserve and short-term financial investment. In the case of an inventory , account statements are used as evidence of the bank balances maintained.

At bank balances are in accordance with the credit institution Accounting Regulation (RechKredV) as liabilities to banks ( § 21 para. 1 RechKredV) or liabilities to customers ( § 21 in the two RechKredV para.) Bank's balance sheet to passivate . Within the framework of the cash reserve , credit institutions may only activate daily credit balances and foreign currency balances that they maintain with central banks as credit according to Section 12 (2) RechKredV . Other balances such as overnight balances as part of the Deutsche Bundesbank's deposit facility as well as claims on the Deutsche Bundesbank from foreign exchange swap transactions, securities repurchase agreements and time deposits are to be shown under “Claims on credit institutions” (asset item no. 3). Savings deposits are shown separately in accordance with Section 21 (4) RechKredV.


In general, bank balances are assignable , pledgeable and attachable . However, in accordance with Section 835 (3) sentence 2 ZPO, the credit institution may not make payments to the account holder or the attachment creditor within two weeks of delivery. Within this period, the account holder has the option, in accordance with Section 850k of the German Code of Civil Procedure, to obtain a release of the non-seizure portion of his income offset in the bank balance. Bank balances are therefore subject to a certain level of seizure protection. Absolute protection against seizure is granted to the credit of a P-account according to § 850k ZPO . The credit notes on which the debtor's bank balance is based is irrelevant for protection against seizure. In order to secure the personal livelihood of the debtor, the debtor can dispose of his credit balance on a giro account managed as a seizure protection account up to the amount of the exemption according to § 850c Paragraph 1 Sentence 1 ZPO in conjunction with § 850c Paragraph 2a ZPO; in this respect, the balance is not covered by the attachment ( Section 850k, Paragraph 1, Sentence 1, ZPO).


Bank balances are used in their form as sight deposits and temporary deposits in addition to savings deposits for calculating the minimum reserve . All central bank balances that are above the minimum reserve requirement represent a reserve surplus. Bank balances of non-banks are also a source of bank money creation . Bank balances in foreign currency belong to the foreign currency .

Part of the money supply

That of the German Federal Bank and other foreign central determined macro-aggregate amount of money is in its manifestation M1 of currency in circulation and the deposits domestic non-banks with domestic banks is detected, therefore, the bank balances term or notice of less than one month. M2, in turn, includes M1 and time deposits of domestic non-banks with domestic credit institutions.

Death of the investor

In the event of the death of the investor, the bank must notify the tax office responsible for inheritance tax ( Section 33 ErbStG ). In this case, the bank can require the person who wants to dispose of the bank balance that a certificate of inheritance , a certificate of execution of a will or a copy or a certified copy of the testamentary disposition is presented together with the opening record. Only those who are listed as heirs or executors are considered by the bank to be entitled to dispose of the bank balance. In addition, the bank can even then provide services to the authorized person. Whether heirs may dispose of bank balances is determined by the scope of the bank power of attorney issued by the deceased account holder .

Legal security

Bank balances at German banks are subject at least to the statutory deposit protection and often also to the voluntary deposit protection of individual banking associations. According to Section 4 (2) No. 1 of the Deposit Protection and Investor Compensation Act , deposits of up to € 100,000 are secured, which are paid out in the event of compensation if a credit institution is unable to repay deposits under Section 5 EAEG. Deposits within the meaning of this law are credit balances with credit institutions that are to be repaid from amounts remaining in an account in the course of the business activities of an institution and on the basis of legal or contractual provisions. This also includes claims that the institute has securitized by issuing a certificate, but not bearer and order bonds. Bank balances are therefore also included in this provision. In addition to this statutory deposit guarantee, the individual banking associations have an additional deposit guarantee that goes beyond this amount. The credit institutions are legally obliged to provide information about the type and amount of deposit protection if their customers reveal a particular interest in the nominal security of an investment.

Individual evidence

  1. BAFin, Notes on the facts of the deposit business , January 2009  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  2. ^ Letter from the Federal Banking Supervisory Office dated September 7, 1982, Az - I 2 - 151 - 14/82, printed in: Reischauer / Kleinhans, KWG, Loseblattsammlung, Volume 2, Kza. 281, No. 1
  3. so already Otto Mühlhäuser: About the scope and validity of the depositum irregulare: A civilist study , 1879, p. 48 ff.
  4. BGHZ 124, 254, 257
  5. ^ BGH WM 1993, 2237
  6. EU Directive 2014/49 / EU of April 16, 2014, ABl. L 173/156
  7. ^ A b Claus Köhler: Geldwirtschaft: Geldversorgung und Kreditpolitik , 1977, p. 11 ( limited preview in the Google book search)
  8. Armin Töpfer: Betriebswirtschaftslehre: application and process-oriented basics , 2005, p. 448
  9. ^ Wilhelm Kalveram : Bank balance sheets , Volume I, 1922, p. 57.
  10. ^ Wilhelm Kalveram: Bank balance sheets , Volume I, 1922, p. 75.
  11. Claus Köhler: Geldwirtschaft: Geldversorgung und Kreditpolitik , 1977, p. 119 ff. ( Limited preview in the Google book search).
  12. ^ BGH, judgments of July 14, 2009, Az .: XI ZR 152/08 and XI ZR 153/08