A loan is a type of debt. This article focuses exclusively on monetary loans, although, in practice, any material object might be lent. Like all debt instruments, a loan entails the redistribution of financial assets over time, between the lender and the borrower.

The borrower initially does receive an amount of money from the lender, which they pay back, usually but not always in regular installments, to the lender. This service is generally provided at a cost, referred to as interest on the debt. A loan is of the annuity type if the amount paid periodically (for paying off and interest together) is fixed.

A borrower may be subject to certain restrictions known as loan covenants under the terms of the loan.

Acting as a provider of loans is one of the principal tasks for financial institutions. For other institutions, issuing of debt contracts such as bonds is a typical source of funding.

Legally, a loan is a contractual promise of a debtor to repay a sum of money in exchange for the promise of a creditor to give another sum of money.

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An arrangement in which a lender gives money or property to a borrower, and the borrower agrees to return the property or repay the money, usually along with interest, at some future point(s) in time. Usually, there is a predetermined time for repaying a loan, and generally the lender has to bear the risk that the borrower may not repay a loan (though modern capital markets have developed many ways of managing this risk).

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