These banks are dominated by the ‘Big Five’: Lloyds, Barclays, National Westminster, Midland (now part of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) and the Trustee Savings Bank. They operate through a network of branches throughout the country. Their importance in the financial system stems from the fact that most of their business is conducted by way of cheques which, through their central clearing arrangements, enables them to economise in the use of cash and so ‘create’ credit.
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