Top 10 Banks In South Africa

South Africa has the strongest and most stable financial and banking service sector in Africa. The top 10 banks in South Africa are also among the top in Africa. The country produced six banks in the 2021 edition of the Banker’s annual ranking of 1,000 of the world’s largest banks.

Although South Africa’s banks continue to dominate Africa’s financial industry, the sector has taken a huge hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, South Africa has a well-developed and world-class banking system that established the country has a global financial hub. Different categories of banks in South Africa include Private Banks, Foreign Banks, Co-operative Banks, and Mutual Banks.

South Africa’s banking sector is dominated by five major banks according to the latest Prudential Authority Annual Report by the South African Reserve Bank. The banks account for 90% of the total banking assets in South Africa.

In this article, we discuss the 10 largest banks in South Africa by their assets;

Standard Bank

With an asset portfolio of $153billion and a market cap of $23 billion, the Standard Bank Group is the largest banking group in Africa.  The bank offers a range of financial services in South Africa and across many African nations.

The bank was established in South Africa in 1862 as a South African branch of British financial organization Standard Bank. The original bank was registered in South Africa as the Standard Bank of South Africa.

The bank has organized its operations in two business divisions;

  • Personal and Business Banking.
  • Corporate and Investment Banking. 

In South Africa, the bank offers services like savings, transactional banking services, investment, borrowing and lending, risk management, insurance, wealth management and advisory services.  These services are offered the bank’s 1,221 branches and more than 8,800 ATMs in the country. The bank has a workforce of around 48,000 workers.


FirstRand is the second-largest bank in South Africa with total assets amounting to $92 million. The bank acquired its current structure and market size following the merger of RMB Holdings (RMBH) and the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa Limited.

The bank operates in South Africa through three divisions or subsidiaries; Rand Merchant Bank, First National Bank, and WesBank. It has its headquarters in Sandton and employees close to 32,000 employees.

In addition to South Africa, the bank also operates in other markets in Africa and the UK where it offers a range of services including insurance products and services, investment, lending, and transactional services to individuals, corporate, commercial, and personal businesses. 

Absa Group Limited

The Absa group has its headquarters in Johannesburg City and was formally called Barclays Africa Group Limited. The bank was incorporated in South Africa in 1991 and currently employees around 27,000 people.

The bank is also a financial powerhouse on the continent with operations spanning 11 African countries among them Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Seychelles, Ghana, Botswana, Nigeria, and Namibia. Absa offer a range of services including personal and business banking, investment management services, and wealth management.

Absa is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa and had an asset portfolio of $85 billion as of 2017.


Nedbank is a subsidiary of Nedbank Group Ltd and was established in 1831. The bank had a market cap of R128 Billion and an asset portfolio of $69 billion in 2017. Services offered by Nedbank include payments and receipts, treasury services, foreign currency accounts, trade finance, guarantees, and documentary credits and collections. The bank also offers custodial services, trade, electronic banking, and cash management.

The bank has operations in 39 countries around the world and has more than 2000 branches where it employees over 31,000 employees.  Nedbank has 786 outlets in South Africa and more than 4000 ATMs.


Investec is a global banking & asset management firm with a wide range of services including investment banking, retail and corporate banking, assets and wealth management, and investment consultation. The bank was founded in 1974 as a subsidiary of Investec Limited.

The bank has its head office in Johannesburg, South Africa and has operations in Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe with a total workforce of 8,200 employees around the world. Investec had total assets amounting to $32 billion as of 2017 and mainly operates as a specialist bank in the country by targeting high-income professionals, entrepreneurs, high net worth individuals, owner-managers in mid-market companies, self-employed entrepreneurs, and investors.


Capitec has its headquarters in Western Cape and is one of South Africa’s leading retail banks. The bank has 800 retail branches with 9.9 million active account holders. Capitec employs around 11,400 employees across its branches and has an asset portfolio of around $6.7 billion.

The bank was originally set up to offer personal and retail services but has since grown to incorporate other services and surpassed several major banks in the country.

African Bank

African Bank offers retail banking services to the private sector and has a wide range of products and services like credit card, investment, loans and debts.  The bank is a subsidiary company of African Bank Holdings Limited.

African Bank has its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa and had total assets amounting to $2.5 billion as of 2017.

Grindrod Bank

Grindrod Bank was founded in 1994 and is licensed as private sector commercial bank in South Africa. The bank has operations across several South African cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and Cape Town.

Grindrod Bank offers services like corporate lending, investment banking, corporate finance, and property-related products and services.  These services are offered to private, corporate, and institutional customers. As of December 2017, Grindrod Bank had assets amounting to $1.3 billion.

Mercantile Bank

Founded in 1965, Mercantile Bank is a commercial bank and a subsidiary company of Mercantile Bank Holdings Limited and of the top 10 banks In South Africa . The bank has its headquarters in Sandown. Mercantile Bank offers a wide range of services to both local and international business clients.

In the international market, the bank has a special focus on the Portuguese market where it mainly targets business, commercial and alliance banking activities. The bank has total assets amounting to $984 million according to 2017 figures.

Bidvest Bank

To close the list of the top 10 banks In South Africa is Bidvest Bank which was founded in 1998 and is also a private sector commercial bank with its headquarters in Johannesburg of South Africa. The bank is fully owned by Bidvest Group Limited, a global business conglomerate based in South Africa. Bidvest Bank had $600 million in total assets in 2017.


South Africa has one of the most sophisticated and stable financial sector on the African continent with the Reserve Bank of South Africa tasked to offer regulatory and supervisory guidance. Additionally, the Reserve Bank is also responsible for maintaining price stability, balanced interest rates, and sustainable economic growth.

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