This section is from the book "Elementary Banking", by John Franklin Ebersole. Also available from Amazon: Elementary Banking.
The paying teller is not necessarily the cashier, although the public sometimes thinks that he is. While the cashier in a small bank is generally paying teller, this is never true in a larger bank. The paying teller's duties are the direct opposite of the receiving teller's. It is often said that the paying teller has the most important position in the bank because on him falls the responsibility of paying out the bank's funds. It is not questioning the measure of his responsibility to point out that it is not the bank's funds but the depositors' money that he is called upon to pay. If this money is paid to the wrong person the bank is liable to pay it again to the proper payee, and if the teller pays out some of the bank's money as well as the depositor's - in other words, permits an overdraft - then again the bank loses. This teller, therefore, stands between the bank and loss. Even more than the receiving teller, his personality, his mental and physical make-up must leave nothing to be desired. He must be courteous, patient, alert, well informed as to business methods in general, keen and resourceful. Above all, the teller, whether paying or receiving, must know his own bank thoroughly. Tellers almost invariably are graduates of many years' experience in the bank.
When a check is presented for payment at the window the teller must be assured (1) that the signature of the drawer is genuine; (2) that the person presenting the check is the payee or, if the check has more than one indorsement, that such indorsements are all present and the person who asks payment is the last indorser; (3) that the balance of the drawer is sufficient to cover the amount of the check; (4) that the check is not dated ahead or very old; (5) that there is no order from the drawer on file to stop payment; and (6) that the check has not been raised or altered. When a check is presented for certification the paying teller takes the same precautions with respect to the genuineness of the signature, balance of the drawer, date of check, and stop-payment as if the check were presented for payment. The matter of indorsement will be taken care of when the certified check is finally presented for payment. Checks are certified by writing or stamping across the face "certified" or "good when properly indorsed." The date and name of the bank, with the signature of an officer or teller, is added. The account of the drawer is charged at once and the effect is that the bank thereupon assumes the liability for the payment of the check. Sometimes a country bank will certify a check and at the same time make it payable at the banking house of its city correspondent. Vault Cash. - The paying teller is the guardian of the bank's funds. He usually has custody of the vault cash. He sees that the supply of money in various denominations is at all times sufficient for the needs of the customers and is properly arranged for quick handling. Money paid out is counted twice before leaving his hands, but in order to avoid one handling while the line before his window waits, he will have bills crossed in piles, or under bands, containing so many one's, two's or five's as the case may be. Coins are neatly piled or rolled in sealed wrappers. This work is done by assistants during the day. The bulk of the vault cash is seldom disturbed. It is usually kept in an inner compartment requiring a duplicate key held by an officer. The teller has a record of the total of this money and of the denominations into which it is divided. The amount of counter or window cash which is brought from the vault to the cage each day is listed in the settlement book, and with this money the teller begins the day's work. During the entire day he is paying out cash for checks, or shipping it to out-of-town correspondents of the bank upon their written or telegraphic order. His settlement at the end of the day is even more simple than the receiving teller's. The amount of the checks he has cashed and handed to the bookkeepers (or, if they are payable at other banks, to the receiving teller), plus the amount of cash on hand, must equal the amount with which he began the day. As soon as he has settled, he adds to his own cash the cash which is handed him by the receiving and other tellers, and this sum is then carried forward to begin the next day's work. The settlement of a teller who is both paying and receiving teller is a combination of the two. The teller begins the day with a cash balance on hand. He adds to this amount the deposits, receipts for interest on loans, drafts sold, exchange, etc., received during the day. At the close of business the total of his cash on hand plus checks for other banks and checks on his own bank (which have been cashed) must equal his total receipts.