Merchant Bank

These offer banking and financial services to wealthy individuals and large companies and provide many services to help investors with their investments.

Sid Arora

Reviewed by

Sid Arora

Expertise: Investment Banking | Hedge Fund | Private Equity


September 15, 2022

The MB offers banking and financial services to wealthy individuals and large companies. In addition, they provide many services that would help investors with the investment, such as underwriting, fundraising, financial consulting, and loan syndication.

MBs do not serve the general public but facilitate cross-border trade for multinational corporations. This banker serves as a financial consultant, broker, lender, debenture trustee, underwriter, and client portfolio manager

Banks do not offer standard banking services such as checking accounts. Instead, MBs provide financial services to wealthy investors and medium-sized businesses. They issue securities, raise venture capital, and fundraise. 

They don't even offer basic banking services. Instead, the focus of all services is on financial advice. As a result, these banks make the majority of their money from advisory fees. 

Furthermore, the bank invests depositors' assets in financial portfolios based on predicted returns and risk tolerance.

Let us now review the history, which began in France and Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

By the end of the 18th century, these banks were well-known throughout Europe; they facilitated distant payments, currency exchange, and the issuance of bills of exchange. In the nineteenth century, the United States established such banks as JP Morgan and Citibank.


The origins of MBs can be traced back to late medieval Italy as well as the 17th and 18th centuries in France. MBs began as organized money markets in which merchants funded the transactions of other merchants. 

The merchant became a banker by integrating his merchant activities into his banking business.

MBs first appeared in the United Kingdom in the early 18th century. Barings Bank is the oldest MB in the United Kingdom, founded by a German-born family of bankers and merchants. 

It was founded in 1762 and was the world's second oldest MB after Berenberg Bank.

The bank was dubbed the "sixth great European power" after assisting the US government during the War of 1812, following Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, Austria, and France.

The expansion of trade and industry in the nineteenth century resulted in the establishment of MBs in the United States. JP Morgan & Co. and Citi Bank were the first MBs in the United States. 

German-Jewish immigrant bankers and Yankee houses with strong connections to expatriate Americans established in London as MBers dominated the industry.

However, as the financial world expanded, corporations surpassed family-owned businesses in the banking industry. The corporations included merchant banking as one of their subjects of interest, which banks still do today.


Banks provide a variety of services for a fee. The services are distinct from those provided by traditional banks. Let us go over each service in detail:

1- Project Counseling

These bankers assist their clients at all project stages, including brainstorming sessions, report creation, budgeting, and financing. This is especially true for new business owners.

2- Clients lease

Assets and equipment to generate rental income through leasing services provided by banks.

3- Issue Management

When acquiring capital through the stock market, large corporations frequently use the services of MBs. 

Equity underwriting is accomplished by assessing the amount of stock to be issued, the value of the business, the use of proceeds, and the timing of new stock issuance. 

These banks handle all paperwork and work with the appropriate marketing division to publicize the stock.

4- Underwriting

Banks also help with equity underwriting. For example, they evaluate the price and risk of a particular security and initial public offerings and stock distribution.

5- Fund Raising

Bankers assist private companies in raising capital from international and domestic markets through various facilities such as underwriting and securities issuance.

6- Loan syndicate

Assists financial institutions in processing loan applications for short and long-term credit. 

They offer these services by calculating total expenditures, putting together a budget for the complete project, and submitting a loan application to financial institutions.

Additionally, they aid in choosing the best financial institutions to extend credit and carry out the loan application conditions with the lenders.

Furthermore, merchant banks coordinate bridge financing, handle legal processes for investment approval and verify working capital requirements. They also make sure the lender is willing to participate.

7- Portfolio Administrations

These are services provided by these banks to institutional and other investors. They assist in the management of securities to increase the value of the underlying investment. 

These banks may assist their clients in purchasing and selling securities to help them achieve their investment goals.

8- Promotional activity: 

These are financial institutions that help new businesses get started.

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Merchant Bank vs. Investment Bank

Although the line between merchant and commercial banks is somewhat blurred, the financial institutions differ in several ways. 

First, merchant banks serve small to medium businesses that may not be large enough to attract venture capitalists or other large investors.

They provide these businesses with innovative credit products such as bridge financing, equity financing, and mezzanine financing. In addition, they invest in small but promising businesses and place equity with other financial institutions.

On the other hand, investment banks work with larger clients to launch IPOs. Investment banks are large enough to invest time, effort, and money in traditional capital-raising channels; 

They serve institutional investors as well as the government. Furthermore, investment banks assist companies with mergers, acquisitions, capital restructuring, and investment research.

Merchant bankers facilitate private equity investments by ensuring that corporate securities are privately placed in front of a preferred group of investors or institutions.

The following characteristics set it apart from other financial institutions:

  • Instead of serving the general public, these banks cater to large corporations and high-net-worth individuals.
  • They are creative and have a decentralized organizational structure.
  • Despite having high liquidity, their profit distribution is low.
  • Because they have a large number of decision-makers, they make decisions quickly.
  • They provide services both domestically and internationally.


Merchant banks are financial organizations that carry out sizable transactions and cross-border agreements in the United States. Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, and Goldman Sachs are well-known examples of international commercial banks. 

Investment banks, often known as merchant banks, provide services to large corporate and business owners in many locations.

1- CitiBank

They are making it easier for customers to buy and smaller firms to collect. In addition, Citi Merchant Services enables you to accept main credit and debit cards and provide other management consulting solutions. 

They also deal with First Data Merchant Services LLC, an electronic commerce and payment solutions leader. The privileges that customers will assure:

  • You own a company that wants to accept credit or debit cards.
  • You want to make it simple for customers to do business with you.
  • All day/ night support during the week.

Features of Citi Merchant Services 

  • Get flexible payment acceptance choices, detailed reporting, actionable insights, and more to support you run your business more efficiently.
  • Their fast and secure online payments will give a chance to customers to provide better access to your services.
  • Accept payments almost anywhere - in-store, at the table, or out in the field, for mobile payments.
  • Credit and debit card funds can be deposited into your account as fast as the following business day.
  • Business Instruments: Access over 400 applications to assist you in running your business and customize your point of sale. 

You'll have access to reports, online account management tools, and customizable business management point-of-sale systems.

2- Paypal Merchant account

PayPal with 20 years of experience as one of the world's most familiar, trusted, and preferred brands with its 100+ currencies, 400+ million active customers, and 200+ markets around the globe.

They will offer you:

  • They have a way for your website to securely accept payments, from easy activation on e-commerce channels like Shopify to developer tools to create a checkout from the ground up.
  • Send invoices with multiple online payment options, or pay for services with a clickable link that clients can pay with just a few taps.
  • Their extensive solutions are designed to meet your changing and expanding business needs.
  • PayPal is integrated into thousands of marketplaces, allowing you to sell on multiple platforms while tracking your PayPal transactions in a single location.

Furthermore, funds from marketplace sales can be deposited directly into your Business account.

Paypal Merchant Services has the following features

  • Earn money online: We have a way for you to start accepting payments quickly and easily, whether it's on your website, a marketplace platform, or via email.
  • Use your account to quickly release money and pay vendors—even while you're on the go.
  • Open your company to the world: Reach over 400 million PayPal users worldwide who use PayPal every day.
  • Can assist you with the day-to-day operations of running a business by providing tools to streamline operations and monitor risk, all from within your PayPal account.


Merchant financing, like any other financial product, has advantages and disadvantages.

Even if the benefits of merchant financing for small businesses outweigh the drawbacks, you must understand the pros and cons of the credit program so you can determine whether it is the best solution for your small business.

1. You will be given corporate advice

MBs typically provides corporate counseling to corporate units as a component of their service bundle. This is done to assess a company's overall financial performance as it seeks to make a name for itself in an international market. 

These evaluations can help a company receive honest and critical feedback that is critical to its success, allowing it to build a better reputation among investors and stakeholders. 

The counseling process may include recommendations, ideas, and even detailed reports.

2. You will receive candid feedback on your project

MBs will collaborate with your company to create a project concept or review an existing project profile. You'll be able to estimate the project's cost, look for financing options, and start planning the action steps required to get the project off the ground. 

Some MBs will even assist in obtaining government approval to begin the project. So you'll know whether your concept is workable when this step is done.

3- You might be able to modify your finances

An MB can provide relevant advice to businesses on mergers and acquisitions in their industry. In addition, they will examine the company's current capital structure and determine the current level of capitalization. 

Alternative capital structures may be recommended to ensure regulatory and legal compliance in foreign markets. 

Disinvestment issues may also be addressed in this section to ensure that any suggested project or investment has the greatest chance of succeeding.

4- You will be given portfolio management

MBs provide services to investors and companies that issue securities. The majority of MB's clients are institutional investors looking to build a secure portfolio that will help them build wealth over time. 

You'll get the services you need to get an investment mix that fits your needs, taking into account any tax bracket issues, objects, and the overall return you want to achieve. 

MBs will also buy and sell securities on behalf of their customers. Some even manage mutual funds and off-shore funds.

5. You will be assisted with problem resolution

Several MBs act as funders for debt issuance and other forms of business financing. 

They collaborate with other brokers and bankers to publicize the issues, determine whether going public is the best course of action, and work to select underwriters and agreements that create a mutually beneficial relationship for everyone. 

These banks will also recommend the type of debentures to be issued, such as whether they should be redeemable, non-redeemable, convertible, or linked to equity.

6. A MB can provide you with immediate debt funding

Although an MB primarily focuses on long-term wealth development, businesses can also submit and receive bank loan products. 

Bank loans, both short-term and long-term, can be used to raise the capital needed for a specific project. 

The lending application process will typically require a business plan that considers total costs, expected returns, and the company's overall credit profile to determine final eligibility.

7. Currency exchanges can be organized for your company

MBs issue a letter of credit to provide funds. If you want to expand internationally, the sellers will accept the credit letter as payment for your purchase. 

Then you'll go over the legal issues that come with doing business in a new market. An MB can also assist you with currency exchanges as the money is transferred out of global markets.

The disadvantages of Merchant Financing

You may be excited about receiving fast cash with no strings attached, but there are some drawbacks to receiving merchant financing. Here are some disadvantages to consider before applying.

1- Your account will cost more than a standard bank account:

When compared to traditional banking products, MBs typically charge higher fees for their services. 

To qualify for the bank's services, you may be required to have a minimum net worth, a specific portfolio already developed, or a high credit profile with a history of project development. 

Although the initial consultation or evaluation may be provided for free, there is no guarantee that your company will be accepted.

2- There are size constraints that must be met:

Any startup or SMB can now enter an international market thanks to the Internet. Just because you have an international presence does not mean you will qualify for the services offered by an MB. 

Size considerations must usually be met, which might include revenue minimums, business structure, and other factors. 

If you're a partnership or sole proprietor, you're less likely to get the opportunity to work with an MB on a project unless you're looking to expand the company's portfolio.

3- You have no say over interest rates or returns:

This may be the most significant disadvantage of working with an MB. Most will not offer a guaranteed return if they manage your investment portfolio. 

If you take on a lending product to expand your company's physical assets, you will have little control over the interest rates assigned to the lending product. Your risk profile is based on the perceived and actual risks that the bank perceives when working with you. 

You will pay more for services if your company is perceived as high-risk, even if it turns out to be a low-risk venture.

4- There is no guarantee of renewal or extension:

When funds are granted access through a merchant bank, they are usually only available for a limited time. As a result, receiving an extension or renewal of the agreement may be difficult, if not impossible. 

Long-term funding is sometimes available through merchant banking, but the majority of projects approved are for five years or less. The only exception to this rule is for those who use MBs for investment rather than funding.

Bottom Line

MB are individuals or entities who assist in channeling funds from market participants with excess funds to individuals in need of financing for their businesses. In addition, they assist small businesses in raising capital through bridge or mezzanine financing.

Merchant bankers offer corporate companies the service of corporate consulting to help the businesses perform better.

The method by which a lot of investors mobilize capital and make it available to corporate clients is coordinated by the merchant bank, which also oversees the actions of financial intermediaries.

A merchant bank helps businesses issue shares through private placements, but an investment bank underwrites and sells shares through initial public offerings to the general public. This is essentially how the two banks differ.

Many banks can offer you various services, advice, and support for your company. 

However, remember that the most crucial thing to ensure is to present your business strategy with a clear vision to avoid losing your possibility of acquiring funding and earning investors' confidence.

The benefits of a merchant cash advance far outweigh the drawbacks. However, keep in mind that merchant financing is a financial obligation that you should not take lightly simply because it appears to be less formal than other small business loans. 

Merchant financing may not be suitable for all businesses, but it is worth considering.

Researched and authored by Ranad Rashwan I  LinkedIn

Reviewed and Edited by Aditya Salunke I LinkedIn

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