The first American banks appeared early in the 18th century, to provide currency to colonists who needed a means of exchange. Originally, banks only made loans and issued noted for money deposited. Checking accounts appeared in the mid-19th century, the first of many new bank products and services. These now include credit cards, automatic teller machines, NOW accounts, individual retirement accounts, home equity loans, and a host of other financial services.
Many financial institutions can now perform some banking functions. Banks compete with savings and loans, savings banks, credit unions, financing companies, investment banks, insurance companies and many other financial services providers. Some experts claim that banks are becoming obsolete, but banks still serve vital economic goals. They continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of their customers, as they have for the past two hundred years. If banks did not exist, we would have to invent them.