Central bank, it\’s features and functions. what is a central bank? A Central bank is the highest financial institution in a country which carries out the monetary policy of the government. It is the sole authority in the banking industry which acts as banker to the government and the commercial banks.

Central bank controls and regulates the supply of money. Most countries have their own central banks, which work closely with the government in order to have means of influencing the credit policy of commercial bank, e.g Central Bank of Nigeria.

Historical development of central bank in West Africa

In West Africa, before independence, the West African Currency Board (W.A.C.B) was the highest financial institution which performed the functions of the central bank.

The board controlled the issue of currency in the Anglophone speaking countries of West Africa which are Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.

 The goal was to keep the currencies of these West African nations at part with the pound sterling. After independence, the countries set up their central banks to ensure rapid economic development.

The Central Bank of Nigeria was then established in 1959. It was charged with the management of the country’s currency. It supervises and coordinates other financial institutions in Nigeria to facilitate economic development.

The report submitted by Mr. J.B Loyins in August, 1957 culminated in the establishment of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Characteristics of central bank

  1. Central bank is not profit oriented
  2. There is only one central bank in a country
  3. It is the highest financial institution
  4. Central bank is established by the Act of Parliament
  5. It is owned by the government
  6. There is no transaction with private individuals.



  1. Banker to the government: Central bank is an agent and banker to the government. It controls public account, receives revenue on behalf of the government and makes payment from this account. Central bank also obtains loan on behalf of the government.
  • Issuance and control of currency: The central bank has the right to order the printing of the currency and the issuance of it. It controls the circulation of currency, exchange of bad notes for new ones, and sees to the destruction of the bad notes.
  • Banker’s bank: The central bank acts as banker to the banks by ensuring that the banks open accounts with it in order to facilitate dealing of cheques. This helps the commercial banks to have similar facilities to offer to their customers.

4.        Lender of last resort: The central bank has a duty to assist the banking system when the banks are in financial difficulties so that they can withstand the strain of excessive demands, in some countries, the banks can borrow directly from the central bank.

5.         Foreign exchange transaction: The central bank holds the foreign reserve of a country, and this helps in enforcing foreign exchange control, which is setup to purchase and sell foreign currencies.

6.         Management of national debt: The central bank is responsible for the management of national debt of the country. It also acts as clearing house for other banks.

  • Maintenance of external reserves: The central bank is also responsible for the maintenance of external reserves of the country.
  • Responsible for monetary policy: The Central Bank is responsible for the monetary policies of the country. It can use both expansionist and restrictionist policies to control the quantity and value of money in circulation so as to influence p the level of production and distribution of the national income.

  • Formulation of rules and regulations guiding the banking industry: The central bank controls, regulates and supervises the components of the banking system. It lays down rules and regulations to be followed by all banks to ensure smooth operations.
  1. External business: The central bank acts as agent of the country by relating with other countries and international financial institutions like IMF, World Bank, etc.


The central bank uses the following instruments to control commercial banks and the supply of money in the economy. These instruments include:

  • Open Market Operation (OMO): Open market operation is the purchase or sale of

government securities in the open market to expand or restrict the volume of money in circulation. The central bank applies this policy with the aim of regulating the volume of money in circulation. When there is too much money in circulation, the central bank will sell securities. But in order to expand the volume, it buys securities.

  •  Liquidity ratio or cash ratio: The commercial banks are mandated by the government to

keep a special proportion, e.g. 25%, of their total deposit with the central bank in order to control the volume of credit. The size can be expanded or contracted depending on the economic condition of the nation.

Bank rate: Bank rate is the minimum rate of interest charged by the central bank for discounting bill of exchange.

By lowering or raising the rate, the central bank can control the activities of the commercial banks. When the rate increases, loan to the public (customers) reduces, while a fall in the rate will encourage more loans.

Special directives: The central bank can issue directives or specific instructions to the commercial banks and other financial institutions to restrict their lending or credit policy or on the direction to which loaning should follow. They will be told to direct their funds to sectors which are in need of investment.

 Special deposit: Special deposit is also an instrument of monetary policy which is used to restrict lending. The central bank can order the commercial banks to have special deposits, usually a percentage of the banks’ deposits, to be made with it


This is intended to control credit and is often used during the period of inflation to reduce cash with banks. The central bank will mandate the commercial banks to keep special deposit over the statutory requirement.

  •  Moral suasion: The central bank can make an appeal to the commercial banks to restrict or expand the level of credit to the public. Moral suasion is not based on the use of force but an appeal to restrict or expand the lending policy.

 Central bankCommercial banks
1It does not accept deposit from the publicThey accept deposits from the public
2It formulates and executes monetary policiesThey do not formulate monetary policies
3Central Bank is owned by the governmentThey are usually owned by the public or government
4It is accountable to the federal governmentThey are accountable to shareholders
5It manages the national debtThey do not manage national debt
6It is responsible for issuing of currencyThey do not issue currency
7Only one central bank exists in a countryMany commercial banks exists in a country
8It is not set up to make profitThey are set up to make profit
9It serves as banker to the banks and governmentsThey serve as bankers to individuals and institutions
10It is established by Act of ParliamentThey are established by incorporation.
  1.     economic tools for nation building
  3. factors affecting the expansion of industries
  4. bud
  5. mineral resources and the mining industries
  6. demand and supply
  7. types of demand curve and used
  8. advertising industry
  9. factors of production
  10. entrepreneur
  11. joint stock company


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