Top Banks in South Africa

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The history of banking dates back to 2000 BC with the existence of powerful guilds of merchant bankers who received deposits and advanced loans that evolved the system of banking by trading in commodities other than money. Over time, the banking industry has grown and spread its tentacles to every part of the world, forming a major sector of every country’s economy. South Africa is one of the prime examples of the organized banking sector with a steady economic growth and sophisticated banking system that helps provide ease in doing business. This article covers the list of top banks in South Africa.

What are the best banks in South Africa?

In answering this question, it is important to note that banks in South Africa just like other places has their own ups and downs. Thus, choosing the best bank in South Africa will depend mostly on what you want; they are banks who are good in terms of active number of clients, active number of branches and how fast they respond to customers complaint. However, in this article, our focus is on the top banks in South Africa. In this list we focus mainly on number of branches, asset value and number of active clients.

In no particular order, here are the top banks in South Africa.

Top Banks in South Africa

Overview of The South African Reserve Bank

The South African Reserve bank is the Central bank of South Africa and is recognized as the oldest central bank in Africa having been established in 1921 after World War 1. Its primary purpose is to ensure price and financial stability in the interest of a balanced and sustainable economic growth in South Africa.

Other responsibility include:

  • Provides important economic and financial statistics that present an overview of the economic situation in South Africa.
  • Conduct research that focuses on economics, financial stability, banking and emerging trends in finance to support policy decision making
  • Ensures a sound banking and financial system in the country
  • Issues banknotes and coins
  • Manages the country’s foreign exchange and gold reserves
  • Protect the value of the rand
  •  Ensure the safety and soundness of the national payment system, which is the backbone of South Africa’s modern financial system

1. Standard Bank

Standard Bank is one of the top banks in South Africa with a primary focus on emerging markets. It was formed in 1962 under the name Standard Bank of South Africa as a South African subsidiary of the British overseas bank Standard Bank. The bank is a part of the Standard Bank Group which is the largest African banking group with total assets of around R2 trillion (USD 153 billion) and a market cap of approximately R310 billion (USD 23 billion).

They primarily offer the services of personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking, wealth management, among other banking services.

2. First Rand Bank Ltd

Established in 1998, First Rand Bank Ltd came into existence following a merger of the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa Limited and RMB Holdings. The bank operates in South Africa, certain markets in Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK, and offers a range of transactional, lending, investment, and insurance products and services.

It has its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa.

3. Absa Group Limited

Formerly known as Barclays Africa Group Limited, Absa group limited is one of the top banks in South Africa.  The bank provides financial services in Africa from personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking to wealth and investment management services. Absa Group is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups with a presence in 15 countries

4. Nedbank Limited

Nedbank is one of the top banks in South Africa with a total assets of R1,2 trillion. Their range of services include wholesale and retail banking services, growing insurance, assets management and wealth management services Their ordinary shares listed on JSE Limited (the JSE) since 1969. Their frontline cluster for solutions include: Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking, Nedbank Retail and Business Banking, Nedbank Wealth and Nedbank Africa Regions

5. Investec Bank Limited

Founded as a small finance company in Johannesburg in 1974. Investec Bank Limited has grown to become  an international organization with listings on the London and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges. They offer financial services ranging from personal banking, business banking, coporate banking, etc.,

6. Capitec Bank

Established in 2001, Capitec bank  is a retail bank in South Africa operating through over 800 retail branches nationwide with 14.7 million active clients as at the time of writing this report. It has total Shareholders’ funds funds of R25 billion. They provides commercial and investment banking activities in South Africa.

7. African Bank

The African Bank limited was established in 1975 as a subsidiary of African Bank Investments Limited, but it started operating under the supervision of the South African Reserve Bank in 2014 within the terms of the South African Banks Act, Act 94 of 1990. It is a private sector retail bank that offers a wide range of products and services to the consumers of South Africa, including loans, investment, debit, and credit card services. It is a subsidiary company of African Bank Holdings Limited with total assets of around R32 billion (USD 2.5 billion).

8. Grindrod Bank

Founded in 1994, Grindrod Bank provide corporate finance, investment banking, corporate lending, deposit, and property-related products and services to private, corporate, and institutional clients. The bank has total assets of around R16.68 billion (USD 1.3 billion) as at the time of writing this report.

9. Bidvest Bank

Founded in 1998, Bidvest Bank is a commercial bank in South Africa that is  licensed as a “Locally Controlled Financial Institution” by the South African Reserve Bank. The bank focuses on providing various retail banking products across South Africa.

10. Discovery Limited

Discovery limited is a South African-based financial services group that is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It was founded in 1992 and has subsidiaries in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Singapore, and Australia.

Discovery Limited engages in long and short-term insurance, asset management, savings, investment and employee benefits through its various brands. It has its headquarters in Sandton, South Africa.

11. Sasfin Bank

Founded in 1951 as a Subsidiary of Sasfin Holdings limited, Sasfin Bank focuses  on high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneur, small and medium enterprises, Sasfin Holdings Limited, was listed on the JSE in 1987. The bank provide a comprehensive range of  financial services for high-net-worth individuals , business corporates, institutions, etc.,

Final thoughts

In the last few years, decentralized finance has been introduced to minimize government regulations on the financial economy, although there has been great enthusiasm about this development, most governments are against decentralized finance.

However, decentralized finance has continued to gain acceptability Worldwide with over 15000 cryptocurrency online as at the time of writing this report. Even with the introduction of decentralized finance, the banking industry is here to stay and sustainable measures must be put in place to ensure its continuous growth and evolution.

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