Under cash reserve ratio (CRR), the commercial banks have to hold a certain minimum amount of deposit as reserves with the central bank. The percentage of cash required to be kept in reserves as against the bank's total deposits, is called the Cash Reserve Ratio. The cash reserve is either stored in the bank’s vault or is sent to the RBI. Banks can’t lend the CRR money to corporates or individual borrowers, banks can’t use that money for investment purposes. And Banks don’t earn any interest on that money.
Why do banks have to reserve cash with RBI?
Since a part of the bank’s deposits is with the Reserve Bank of India, it ensures the security of the amount in case of any emergencies. The cash is readily available when customers want their deposits back. At the time of high inflation, the government needs to ensure that excess money is not available in the economy. CRR helps in keeping inflation under control. If there is a threat of high inflation in the economy, RBI increases the CRR, so that banks need to keep more money in reserves, effectively reducing the amount of money that is available with the banks. This curbs excess flow of money in the economy.
When there is a need to pump funds into the market, the RBI lowers the CRR rate, which in turn, helps the banks provide loans to a large number of businesses and industries for investment purposes. Lower CRR also boosts the growth rate of the economy.