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Depository (2023): Meanings, Types | Know All Details


Depository is an integral part of the financial landscape, offering a secure and convenient means of safeguarding assets, currency, and securities. These institutions play a crucial role in providing both security and liquidity in the market, impacting consumers and businesses alike.

Depositories, in their broadest sense, encompass various entities. They can refer to physical facilities like buildings, offices, or warehouses where valuable items, currency, or assets are deposited for safekeeping. On the other hand, depositories can also represent institutions such as banks or savings associations, which allow customers to deposit their money securely, whether in time deposits or demand deposit accounts.

Furthermore, depositories are essential in the world of securities trading, acting as intermediaries that hold and facilitate the transfer of securities. When assets are deposited with such institutions, they may be held electronically or in paper form. The key feature is the security they provide, ensuring that deposits are returned in the same condition upon request.

One of the primary functions of depository institutions is to accept deposits from customers and pay interest on those deposits over time. This interest-generating system allows these institutions to lend deposited funds to others, whether through mortgages or business loans. By doing so, they create a flow of liquidity in the market.

The Various Faces of Depositories

Depositories come in various forms, serving distinct purposes for individuals and businesses. For those looking to store money, banks and financial institutions offer time deposit and demand deposit accounts. Time deposits, often in the form of certificates of deposit, provide an interest-bearing account with a specific maturity date. In contrast, demand deposit accounts keep funds safe, allowing customers to withdraw money as needed.

Depositories are not limited to just currency; they also house securities like stocks and bonds. These securities can be held electronically or as physical certificates. Depository institutions help investors eliminate the risk of holding physical securities, reducing the chances of theft, loss, fraud, damage, or delivery delays.

Real-World Examples

Euroclear serves as a noteworthy example of a depository institution, functioning as a central securities depository primarily for European market participants. Its clients, which include banks and broker-dealers, rely on Euroclear for clearing and settling domestic and international securities transactions, covering a wide range of financial instruments, including bonds, equities, derivatives, and investment funds. Euroclear accepts domestic securities from over 40 markets, fostering cross-border trading.

Types of Depositories

  • Depository institutions come in various forms, each with distinct functions. Credit unions, savings institutions, and commercial banks are the primary types. These institutions rely heavily on customer deposits for their funding, with deposits and accounts typically insured by entities like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
  • Credit unions operate as nonprofit organisations with a strong focus on customer service. Customers essentially buy shares in the credit union when they deposit money, and earnings are distributed as dividends.
  • Savings institutions, also known as savings and loan institutions, focus on consumer mortgage lending while offering credit cards and commercial loans. Customers buy shares in these institutions when they deposit money, and interest is earned on a variety of financial products.
  • Commercial banks are the largest depository institutions, offering a wide range of services, including savings accounts, loans, credit cards, and investment products. These institutions use customer deposits to fund mortgage loans, commercial loans, and real estate loans.

The Distinction Between Depository and Repository

It’s essential to differentiate between a depository and a repository. While a depository serves as a place for depositing assets and currency, a repository, in contrast, typically stores abstract items such as knowledge or data. 

Understanding Depository Institutions and Non-Depository Financial Institutions

Depository institutions are financial entities that rely on customer deposits as their primary source of funding. These encompass commercial banks, credit unions, and savings and loan associations. In contrast, non-depository institutions, such as life insurance companies, do not depend on customer deposits for their primary income. Instead, they serve as intermediaries in various financial transactions.

The Benefits of Depository Institutions

Depository institutions offer a host of benefits to customers. These include safeguarding assets and valuables and ensuring their security against theft and loss. Moreover, customers earn interest on their deposits, contributing to the growth of their balances. Depository institutions also play a vital role in creating liquidity by lending out deposited funds and fostering economic activity.


Depositories are the cornerstone of the financial world, providing individuals and businesses with a safe haven for their assets and currency. These institutions are pivotal in ensuring security and liquidity in the market, serving as a vital link in the financial ecosystem. Whether you’re looking to store your money, safeguard securities, or facilitate the seamless transfer of assets, depositories are indispensable in today’s financial landscape.

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