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 ten 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 South Africa:

  1. Standard Bank Group
  2. FirstRand
  3. ABSA Group
  4. Nedbank Group
  5. Capitec
  6. Investec Bank
  7. African Bank Limited
  8. Grindrod Bank
  9. Mercantile Bank
  10. Bidvest Bank
  11. Sasfin Bank Limited
  12. Al Baraka Bank Limited
  13. Ubank Limited
  14. HBZ Bank South Africa
  15. South African Bank of Athens (SABA)

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. The bank is also considered one of the largest banks in Africa.

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.

Before becoming Absa Bank, this bank was initially an entirely different banking institution. In the first instance, it was referred to as the Barclays Africa Bank. Right from its inception, the bank has provided its clients a wide range of banking services, which include personal accounts, corporate accounts, investment banking, assurance, and several types of card services.

Absa Bank’s financial success had led it to acquire several financial institutions within many African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, to name a few. In addition, it has offices in countries such as Nigeria and Namibia. From 2018 till date, the bank has successfully opened several offices within England and the United States.

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.

6. Investec Bank

Investec Bank is a financial institution that offers its clients both banking and wealth management services within South Africa. In addition, Investec Bank offers other financial services to its clients in international countries within Asia and Europe.

Investec Bank began operations in 1974 with its headquarters in Sandton. Since then, the bank has been at the forefront of providing individual services, investment banking, and corporate services. In addition, Investec Bank provides custom banking services to specific private clients.

Investec Bank has a total workforce of almost 10,000 staff. The bank averages an annual income that is close to R11 billion. Likewise, it has a total asset of over R11 trillion.

7. African Bank Limited

The current African Bank Limited or ABL is a bank that came into existence in 2016 after a restructuring effort. The restructuring of the bank was because of the curatorship by the country’s apex bank, which forced several changes to its operations. Initially, the bank was opened in 1975 and was related to the African Bank Investment Limited.

The bank has its head office in Midrand, South Africa. African Bank Limited is heavily involved in retail banking in the country. Also, the bank has several branches all across the country. It offers several banking services such as savings accounts, current accounts, and more through its fully evolved digital services.

8. Grindrod Bank

Grindrod Bank is considered a South African bank that operates as a commercial financial institution. This bank began its operations in 1994. In 2004, the bank was incorporated as a financial institution that is related to the mother company Grindrod Financial Group. Two years after its incorporation, Grindrod Bank purchased all shares of Marriot Merchant Bank.

In general, Grindrod Bank provides its services to high-earning clients. With its head office in Durban, Grindrod Bank has several branches within Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg, and other provinces within South Africa. The bank has a staff base of over 6,000 employees. Also, Grindrod Bank has a total asset of over R30 billion.

9. Mercantile Bank

Mercantile Bank operates as a commercial bank, which has been in operation since 1965. Its head office in Sandton, offers its clients individual banking corporate services, retail services, brokerage, and asset management to name a few. Mercantile Bank operates as a subsidiary of a Portuguese financial institution.

Mercantile Bank has over 1000 workers across several branches within South Africa. The bank has a total average net income of over R200 million and a total asset of over R10 billion.

10. Bidvest Bank

Bidvest Bank is a type of bank that provides specialized banking services to specific clients. In particular, the bank provides insurance services, car purchase financing, retail banking services, and foreign exchange to local businesses.

Bidvest Bank began its operation in 1946, and it is owned by Bidvest Group, which is an international financial institution. The bank has a total asset of over R9 billion and a yearly average net profit of over R300 million. At the moment, Bidvest Bank employs directly and indirectly over 100,000 staff.

11. Sasfin Bank Limited

Sasfin Bank is the 11th largest bank in South Africa, and it was founded in 1951. It got listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1987. Its main clients are wealthy individuals and corporate entities. Some of its products include Loans, checking, credit and debit cards, and investment services.

It employs over 616 workers and operates 4 branches. For the year ended June 30, 2021, it reported a net income of R141.071 million, up from the previous year’s R48.617 million. In the same period, its assets totaled R12.155 billion, a drop from the previous year’s R14.006 billion.

12. Al Baraka Bank Limited

Al Baraka Bank Limited offers full Islamic banking, and it’s a subsidiary of Bahrain’s Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG). It was founded in 1989 and offers Islamic banking products that include corporate saver accounts, participation accounts, haj investment schemes, monthly investment plans, Sharia-compliant unit trusts, and online banking, among other financial-related services.

It employs 94 workers in its 14 branches across South Africa, and as of May 2020, it had over R8.674 billion in assets. Its total comprehensive income for the year 2020 was R36 million, which is a drop from the R75 million from the previous year.

13. Ubank Limited

Ubank Limited was formerly known as Teba Bank and operates in the microfinance sector. Some of its services include transaction and savings accounts, debit cards, home, and personal loans, funeral plan products, mobile banking, and airtime contracts. It has over 50 branches and 100 ATM branches, spread out in the rural mining communities, where it employees over 840 workers.

Ubank Limited received its banking license in 2000, after operating under the exemption of Banks Acts for 24 years. In 2019 its assets totaled R5.7 billion, up from 2019’s R5.6 billion. During the same period, it advanced R719.2 million to customers. However, it made a loss before tax of R163.5 million, a drop from the previous year’s R257.4 million in profit.

14. HBZ Bank South Africa

HBZ Bank was launched in South Africa in 1995 and is owned by the Habib Bank AG Zurich. It operates branches in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu, as well as and Islamic Banking. Its products include personal banking, business banking, Islamic banking, and online banking. It also offers trade finance and related baking services.

It operates 9 branches in South Africa and employs 159 workers across its branches. In 2020, it made a pre-tax profit of R109 million, which was a drop from the previous year’s R138 million. However, it made a gain of 15% in asset growth, from 2019″s R5.916 billion to R6.826 billion. As of 2020, it had a total of R6.183 in customer deposits.

15. South African Bank of Athens (SABA)

South African Bank of Athens was founded in 1947, and it provides banking services to SMEs. As of 2020, it had 99 employees and operated some of the 700 traditional retail branches, which it operates in partnership with ABSA and G4S. SABA’s focus is mainly on business banking, alliance banking, and agricultural and associated banking markets.

The decision to diversify and serve clients in the agricultural industry came in 2018. That’s after it was acquired by AFGRI Holdings Proprietary Limited, after it purchased 99.81% of SABA’s shares, for R300 million. As of 2018, SABA’s total assets were valued at R170.2 billion, and it had a market capitalization of R223.3 billion.

S/n Bank

Name

Income

(R billion)

Headline earnings

(R billion)

Tier1 capital

($ billion)

Employees Branches Customer satisfaction

(100%)

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.

Now, you’ve learned about the biggest banks in South Africa. 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.