The second Bank of the United States operated in domestic exchange, the sale of drafts to the public constituting no small part of its business. The public and the Treasury argued that the bank ought to sell these drafts at par; but the bank charged varying rates of exchange, averaging 1/2 per cent. These varying rates gave rise to the complaint that the bank showed favoritism and that it charged excessive and usurious rates. After 1820, however, the bank bought bills heavily and increasingly, and this helped to facilitate commerce and to equalize exchange. In this business it competed with the state banks. The exchange operations gave the bank a considerable control over the local currency by purchasing, or refusing to purchase, bills from the different areas.
During the first few years of the second bank's existence its services to commerce were restricted through the tying up of an undue proportion of its capital in stock notes received for subscriptions. With the change of management, however, its service improved and commercial loans of short-term usance were readily granted, mostly on pledge of personalty. Not only by aiding commerce in this and other ways, but also by its influence upon the state institutions, the bank proved its value to the community as a national institution.