What is a Negotiable Order of Withdrawal (NOW)?
A negotiable order of withdrawal, also known as a NOW account, is a type of deposit account that provides interest and allows the depositor to write drafts against the money that is held on deposit.
In the U.S, commercial banks, lending associations, and mutual savings banks are allowed to offer NOW accounts. Individuals, some government entities, and certain non-profit organizations are also permitted to open NOW accounts.
What is a Demand Deposit?
A demand deposit account is a bank account where the funds held can be withdrawn at any time. They are usually thought of as checking accounts and are characterized by being highly liquid and offering little to no interest.
What is a Draft?
A draft or check is a document where a payer agrees to make a payment of a certain amount from an account held by another party, usually a bank or other financial institution.
Negotiable Order of Withdrawal Account Explained
Investors who are seeking a method to put liquid capital into a short-term investment can choose among a few different alternatives. They include deposits or investments, such as:
- Interest-bearing checking accounts
- Interest-bearing savings accounts
- Money-market funds
- Certificates of deposit (CDs)
Negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) accounts were an additional alternative for such investors prior to the Dodd-Frank Act. Until 2011, NOW accounts were commonly used for consumer and retail consumers who wished to get a return for their unused funds while still being able to use the funds if needed. NOW accounts were clearly distinguished from “demand deposit accounts” by the U.S banking regulators because of Regulation Q.
What is Regulation Q
Regulation Q is a Federal Reserve Board regulation that sets capital requirements and capital reserve standards for U.S financial institutions. The regulation was updated several times throughout its history, mainly to ensure that banks maintained sufficient capital to weather any economic recession.
Regulation Q prohibited banks from paying interest on checking accounts and demand deposit accounts. However, it was repealed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act in the wake of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.
When Regulation Q was repealed, banks were then allowed to pay interest on demand deposits, which removed the attractiveness that NOW accounts offered.
History of NOW Accounts
In the U.S, “The Banking Act,” passed in 1933, specified that no member bank is permitted to pay interest on a deposit that is payable on demand. The reason was that the interest paid on checking accounts caused excess competition in the U.S banking industry. The excess competition led to reduced profitability and more bank failures. As interest rates increased, banks felt the incentive to get around the rule so that they could attract more customers.
The NOW account was created to “challenge” the band of interest payments on checking accounts. Consumer Savings Bank’s President and CEO, Ronald Haselton, was the first to introduce the concept of NOW accounts, and it led to Congress permitting NOW accounts in the states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 1974 with a 5% interest rate ceiling.
By 1986, as part of the deregulation of interest rates, the interest rate ceiling on NOW accounts was removed, but interest was still not permitted on demand deposit accounts.
NOW accounts were never prohibited, but after 2011, the prohibition of paying interest on demand deposit accounts was removed. Therefore, the only distinction between NOW accounts and demand deposit accounts was gone.
NOW Accounts vs. Demand Deposit Accounts
NOW accounts and demand deposit accounts are very similar. They essentially are deposit accounts that allow funds to be withdrawn very quickly and without delay.
NOW accounts are not used any more – mostly after the Dodd-Frank Act. The primary advantage that a NOW account offered was the fact that it was interest-bearing. After the repeal of Regulation Q, the interest benefit was no longer there, as interest could be paid on checking and demand deposit accounts.
Another main difference was that NOW accounts were available for seven-day holding periods, so consumers needed to plan ahead at least seven days for advance notice. However, the feature is not exercised often in practice.
Super NOW Accounts
Super NOW accounts are NOW accounts that are combined with money market accounts. The accounts generally carry a lower interest rate than a money market account, but a higher interest rate than a NOW account. Super NOW accounts come with more liquidity than a money market account, but less liquidity than a NOW account.
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