These South African banks have the happiest customers

BusinessTech has published the findings of its inaugural 2019 Banking Survey, which gauges South Africans’ banking habits, service satisfaction, and interest in new digital banking entrants.

The survey was conducted over the month of March 2019, and drew over 1,000 detailed responses.

The biggest demographic represented in the data below are male South Africans between the ages of 18 and 40, who earn an income between R10,000 and R50,000 a month.

According to the survey results, FNB remains the most popular primary bank in the country (where salaries are deposited), with over 34% of respondents using its accounts.

This is followed by Capitec, Standard Bank, Absa, Nedbank, and finally Investec.

Bidvest Bank and Old Mutual are listed as the primary bank of only a minority of respondents.

Customer satisfaction

As part of the survey, customers were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with their bank on a scale of 1 to 10.

South African banking customers are generally satisfied with the service they receive from banks, with most respondents scoring their respective banks an 8 out of 10 (and most falling into the 7 to 9 range).

However, Investec and Capitec clients outperform their competitors, with the biggest portion of respondents scoring their banks 9 and 10 out of 10, respectively.

Overall, Investec scored the highest average satisfaction score of 8.71 – only a fraction above Capitec at 8.70 – though off a much lower base.

The graphs below give a more detailed look at how customer satisfaction compares to the industry view in South Africa at each bank.






Standard Bank

All banks

Switching banks

Because most banking customers expressed high levels of satisfaction with their banks, it comes as no surprise that the vast majority expressed little interest in changing to another group.

Only one in five (20.6%) respondents indicated any active desire to change to another traditional retail bank, with a small minority (5.3%) uncertain on whether they want to stay or go.

Absa customers are the most likely to switch, with almost a third of respondents indicating they are looking to bail – this is followed by Nedbank and Standard Bank where a quarter said the same.

Closely linked to satisfaction levels, Capitec and Investec customers were least likely to switch.

Given the option of non-digital banks to move to, Capitec would emerge as the biggest gainer in banking migrants, with 41% of leavers choosing the bank as their new destination.

However, interrogating the data from each bank, individually, the survey responses show an overwhelming disinterest among those who want to switch banks to move to another traditional bank – with their first option not being listed among the current retail banks.

The Capitec customers who expressed interest in switching did not want to move to any other traditional bank at all.

Of all respondents who indicated a desire to switch banks, half are considering a jump to digital banks.

Rise of digital banking

Two digital banks have launched into the South African market – with TymeBank launching fully at the end of February, and Discovery Bank soft-launching at the end of March.

These new digital entrants have piqued the interest of most banking customers, not just those actively looking to switch.

Across all survey respondents, almost half (45%) said they would consider switching to a new digital bank, with 48% saying no thanks, and 7% undecided.

Among the four new digital players (including Bank Zero, and Sasfin’s Hello Paisa), it’s Discovery Bank which is the clear interest winner, with 44% of respondents saying they’re most interested in the insurer’s offering.

This is followed by TymeBank (30%), Bank Zero (14%) and Hello Paisa barely getting a mention.

Interestingly, around 12% of respondents who expressed interest in switching to digital banks are yet to see an offering from the newcomers that draws them, and have adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ approach.

Among the different traditional banks, Nedbank clients are most likely to make the jump to digital, followed by Standard Bank, Absa, FNB and then Capitec. Not enough Investec clients expressed interest in digital banking to be statistically relevant.

In almost all cases, customers are most interested in Discovery Bank’s offering – with the exception of Capitec clients, who have their eyes on TymeBank.

Discovery has made it clear that their new banking offering is not targeting the lower-end of the market, where Capitec and TymeBank will end up competing.

Read: Why banking can’t be free: Capitec CEO

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These South African banks have the happiest customers