The banking industry in South Africa is second to none in the Continent. The industry is well-groomed and developed that about four of its leading banks are amongst the top five biggest banks in Africa, and they have been leading the pack for quite a while now.

Biggest Banks South Africa

Below is a list of the biggest banks in the economy.

1. Standard Bank Group

The South African bank ranks the biggest in South Africa and even in Africa as a whole. It has a tier 1 capital of $9.8 billion. The bank stands out on many grounds. It is the top-earning institution, bringing in a total income of about R100 million. The bank has continues to soar above others over the tears. It serves about 8.1 million customers and has the highest number of employees.

2. FirstRand

FirstRand is the second biggest bank in South Africa. It has a Tier 1 capital of $8.2 billion. Considering just headline earnings as a criterion for judgment, FirstRand will most likely come first among banks in South Africa with an earning of R27.89 billion for the 2019 financial year. But it emerged second on the basis of the combination of yardsticks.

3. ABSA Group

Absa is the third biggest bank in both South Africa and the African continent, although this last financial year was not too much of a good year in that it faced a double-digit fall in its Tier 1 capital position. It fell from 170th position to 184th position in the global ranking, and now has a Tier 1 capital of $6.8 billion.

4. Nedbank Group

The Nedbank Group ranks fourth in South Africa, fourth in Africa, and 240th in the world, on the basis of its Tier 1 capital which is about $5.1 billion.

5. Capitec

Capitec runs on a market capitalization of R114.8 billion. With this, it ranks fifth biggest in the South African banking industry. Although on the basis of its market capitalization, it qualifies to be in third place. Meanwhile, only two years ago, the bank was in the fifth position on the basis of its market capitalization. Also, in terms of share price, Capitec remains one of the biggest with its 2018 R1,000 per share price.

S/n Bank



(R billion)

Headline earnings

(R billion)

Tier1 capital

($ billion)

Employees Branches Customer satisfaction


1. Standard Bank 98.9 27.9 9.75 53 178 1200 77.0
2. FirstRand 94.1 27.9 8.23 40 856 640 81.5
3. Absa Bank 75.7 16.1 6.85 48 780 619 76.3
4. Ned Bank 54.8 13.5 5.71 31 277 702 79.3
5. Capitec 19.0 5.3 1.51 13 774 840 84.9


Deciding which bank is the biggest was such a tricky one. As most banks superseded on some grounds and lost on others. Capitec, for instance, will pass as the biggest bank in the country based on customer numbers, but then, Standard Bank has the biggest income base and ranks top by core capital, and Absa has the widest reach.

So each of them ranks the biggest on different grounds. The bit we were only to arrive at this list on the basis of comparison of the different grounds on which each bank earns points.