How South Africa’s 5 biggest banks continue to dominate

 ·25 Jul 2021

The five biggest banks in South Africa continue to dominate the financial landscape in the country the South African Reserve Bank’s latest Prudential Authority Annual Report shows.

As of March 2021, these ‘big five’ account for over 90% of total banking assets in the country, valued at approximately R5.8 trillion.

According to the Prudential Authority, there are currently 31 banking entities in South Africa – 18 local banks, and 13 local branches of foreign banks. In addition, there are four entities operating at mutual banks – though this include VBS, which has not yet deregistered, it said.

Combined, South Africa’s banks carry a total asset value of just under R6.5 trillion, while the mutual banks account for R3.4 billion in assets.

The Prudential Authority no longer includes a breakdown of individual bank assets, however other annual reporting by the banks themselves give a more detailed view of how the market is split.

This shows that the five biggest banks in the country are:

  1. Standard Bank
  2. FirstRand (FNB)
  3. Absa Bank
  4. Nedbank
  5. Investec

A breakdown of asset share in Nedbank’s 2020 annual report shows that the split among the banks is as follows:

According to Nedbank’s report, at the end of December 2020 total asset value held by South Africa’s banks was R6.569 trillion, higher than the R6.457 trillion recorded by the Prudential Authority for March 2021.
Therefore the figures below are close approximations, rounded for readability.
Bank Market share ~ Asset value
Standard Bank 24.0% ~R1 550 billion
FirstRand 21.7% ~R1 400 billion
Absa 19.5% ~R1 260 billion
Nedbank 17.2% ~R1 110 billion
Investec 7.6% ~R490 billion
Capitec 2.3% ~R150 billion
Discovery bank 0.19% ~R12 billion
TymeBank 0.03% ~R2 billion
Other banks 7.4% ~R480 billion

The Prudential Authority noted that despite the overarching crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, banks remained resilient, with assets only declining by 1.85% year on year. Loans and advances remained flat (-0.13%), while equities increased by 8.6%.

However, profitability ratios remained under strain due to a challenging operating environment. On top of this, impaired advances rose, owing to increased stress in the economy due to Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, it said.

Tier 1 Capital

The SARB data aligns with other figures tracked by The Banker, which recently listed the 1000 biggest banks in the world, including six from South Africa. The Banker tracks banks by their Tier 1 Capital, or core capital.

This tracks the funds available for banks to keep function on a regular basis and is not the same as their total asset value – but still forms a standard measure of financial strength.

Using this measure, South Africa’s banks still align with the ranking by asset value, with Standard Bank ranking as the biggest, followed by FirstRand, Absa, Nedbank, Investec and Capitec.

The biggest banks in South Africa

# Bank 2020 Tier 1 Capital $m 2021 Tier 1 Capital $m Change
157 Standard Bank 10 547 11 160 +5.8%
200 FirstRand 9 163 7 746 -15.5%
205 Absa 7 773 7 611 -2.1%
265 Nedbank 5 713 5 567 -2.6%
400 Investec 2 167 3 050 +40.7%
558 Capitec 1 899

Read: These are the banking scams you should look out for in South Africa right now – with fraud on the rise

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