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Your Guide To Banks In South Africa

05 August 2020 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in Money Talks

Banks operating in South Africa

Banking in South Africa, when we mention the term many of you familiar with the local financial plumbing would think of long lines winding towards tellers or ATMs and the system being offline. The South African banking system, is a complex one to navigate, and while many of us only deal with the surface banking system, it is far more in-depth, complex and convoluted than you might realise.

Central banking, investment banking, private banking, business banking and retail banking all form part of the local and financial system along with off-shore players also having a stake in South Africa.

If you ever wondered what banking options South Africa has, what they do and who sits with all the capital and liquidity, then you'll find a high-level overview below.

List of banks in South Africa

Monetary authority

  • South African Reserve Bank

As with Sauron and the Lord of the rings, one ring to rule them all, so too do we have one bank to rule them all. The South African reserve bank is the issuer of physical currency as well as bank reserves for retail banks. They handle and set interest rates and other monetary and fiscal policy that the rest of the banking sector need to adhere to if they are to remain in operation. 

    Locally-controlled banks

    (registered in terms of the Banks Act)

    • Absa Bank Ltd (now a foreign-controlled bank 
    • African Bank Ltd
    • BoE Private Clients (a division of Nedbank)
    • Bidvest Bank Limited
    • Capitec Bank Ltd
    • FirstRand Bank Ltd
    • First National Bank (a division of FirstRand Bank)
    • Investec Bank Ltd
    • Marriott Corporate Property Bank Ltd (a subsidiary of Marriott Holdings Ltd)
    • Go Banking (a division of Nedbank in association with Pick ‘n Pay) 
    • Rand Merchant Bank (a division of FirstRand Bank)
    • Rennies Bank Ltd (now a division of Bidvest Bank)
    • RMB Private Bank (a division of FirstRand Bank)
    • Sasfin Bank Ltd
    • Standard Bank of SA Ltd
    • TEBA Bank Ltd
    • Wesbank (a division of FirstRand Bank)

    Foreign-controlled banks in South Africa

    (registered in terms of the Banks Act)

    • Absa Bank Ltd (a member of Barclays Bank Group)
    • Albaraka Bank Limited
    • Habib Overseas Bank Limited
    • HBZ Bank Limited (a subsidiary of Habib Bank)
    • Mercantile Bank Limited
    • South African Bank of Athens Limited

    Branches of international banks in South Africa

    (registered in terms of the Banks Act)

    • ABN AMRO Bank NV
    • Bank of Baroda
    • Bank of China, Johannesburg Branch
    • Bank of Taiwan, SA Branch
    • Barclays Bank plc (now incorporated into Absa Bank)
    • China Construction Bank, Johannesburg Branch
    • Citibank NA
    • Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft
    • Deutsche Bank AG
    • HSBC Bank plc, Johannesburg Branch
    • JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Johannesburg Branch
    • Société Générale, Johannesburg Branch
    • Standard Chartered Bank, Johannesburg Branch
    • State Bank of India

    Mutual banks

    (registered in terms of the Mutual Banks Act)

    • GBS Mutual Bank
    • VBS Mutual Bank

    Investment banks

    • Absa Bank Ltd
    • African Bank Ltd
    • Albaraka Bank Ltd
    • Bank of China
    • Bank of Taiwan (SA)
    • Bidvest Bank
    • BNP Paribas
    • Sasfin Bank
    • Grinrod Bank

    Other banks in South Africa

    • Development Bank of Southern Africa
    • Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa: 

    Savings and credit co-operatives (SACCOs)

    • Find a list via the Savings and Credit Cooperative League of SA (SACCOL)

    South African bank-related organisations

    • Banking Association South Africa
    • Institute of Bankers in South Africa
    • BankservAfrica (joint bank utility company)
    • South African Reserve Bank (central bank)
    • Sabric, South African Banking Risk Information Centre

    The primary banks in South Africa

    You can choose the best bank for your needs by comparing the services offered by national, local and international banks.

    These commercial banks in South Africa are also members of the Banking Association South Africa, which provides a collective voice for banks when interacting with the government.

    In addition to current and savings bank accounts, most major South African banks also offer loans, mortgages and investment services.

    Banks in South Africa are generally open from 9 am to 3:30 pm from Monday to Friday (sometimes up to 4–5 pm), and 8:30 am to 11 am on Saturdays (or noon).

    Where to find South African banks

    In some exceptions, there are banks located in the local airports that adjust their hours to accommodate international flights.

    You will be able to find branches of the major South African banks and international banks in South Africa in large towns and major cities in the country.

    Banking in South Africa

    VISA and Mastercard are among the most common card types in South Africa. When withdrawing money using your debit card at an ATM, you won’t usually be charged a flat fee at the ATM, but will instead pay the standard withdrawal fees associated with your account. These fees vary significantly depending on the terms of your account. Cheques, meanwhile, are commonly considered an outdated form of payment in South Africa and aren’t accepted in many places.

    Biggest banks in South Africa as of 2018

    A look at the retail banks South Africans and foreigners living here deal with regularly, we view there performance with the annual report from the SA Reserve Bank

    #BankAssets (R million)Growth
    1Standard Bank1 254 849+1.64%
    2FirstRand Bank1 120 747+10.23%
    3Absa983 378+7.51%
    4Nedbank892 006+2.60%
    5Investec415 285+7.29%
    6Capitec87 033+21.34%
    7African Bank31 356-14.00%
    8Grindrod Bank16 696+9.91%
    9Mercantile Bank12 892+8.97%
    10Bidvest Bank8 508+21.39%
    11Sasfin7 778+14.29%
    12Albaraka Bank5 930+10.10%
    13Ubank5 224+12.90%
    14HBZ Bank4 856+14.97%
    15South African Bank of Athens2 355+3.95%
    16Tyme Digital (Commonwealth Bank of South Africa)1 403+100.00%
    17Habib Overseas Bank1 186+4.61%
    18Discovery Bank622+100.00%

    Biggest banks in South Africa as of 2020

    #Bank2019 Tier 1 Capital $m2020 Tier 1 Capital $mChange
    152Standard Bank9 75210 547+8.2%
    169FirstRand8 2319 163+11.3%
    190Absa6 8487 773+13.5%
    232Nedbank5 1095 713+11.8%
    463Investec2 8012 167-22.6%

    Popular South African banking questions

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    Recommended reading

    If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on money tips.

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