The banking sector in South Africa includes local banks, foreign controlled banks, mutual banks as well as branches and representative offices of foreign financial institutions. The five largest banks hold approximately 90% of banking assets. The South African Reserve Bank, founded in 1921, is the central bank of the country.

Standard Bank Group

Standard Bank Group Ltd, based in Johannesburg, is the largest bank in South Africa in terms of total assets. With over 50,000 employees, 1,115 branches and 8,970 ATMs, it provides a wide array of deposit and lending products, investment and advisory services, wealth management, insurance, mortgages, transactional banking, mobile and online banking, credit cards, foreign exchange, wire transfers and more. The company’s shares are traded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE), with a market capitalization of about US$11 billion as at June 10, 2020.

FirstRand Group

FirstRand Limited (JSE: FSR) (also known as FirstRand Group) is the second largest bank in South Africa with total assets of ZAR 1.72 trillion and shareholders' equity of ZAR 139 billion. With about 49,000 employees, it offers a wide array of lending, transaction, insurance and investment products and services in Southern, East, West and Central Africa. It has international branches in Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, India, Guernsey and the UK. The company’s shares are traded on the Johannesburg and the Namibian stock exchanges.

ABSA Group

ABSA Group Ltd (formerly Barclays Africa Group) is the third largest bank in South Africa with total assets of ZAR 1.4 trillion (US$98 billion) and about 40,000 employees. It offers personal, business, corporate and investment banking, wealth management, bancassurance, online banking and more. The company has international presence in Nigeria, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Mauritius, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, and Seychelles as well as in the UK and the U.S. with representative offices in London and New York City. The company’s stock is listed on the JSE.

Nedbank Group

Nedbank Group Ltd, headquartered in Sandton, is the fourth largest banking group in South Africa by total assets. With over 700 outlets and 4,240 ATMs including sub-Saharan Africa, it provides retail, business, corporate and investment banking services. It offers transactional and savings accounts, personal and home loans, vehicle and asset finance, credit cards, insurance, mobile and online banking and other services. The company operates subsidiaries in Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland. It also has representative offices in Kenya and Angola. The Group was formed in 1973 and employs about 30,900 people.


Investec Group, established in 1974, is an international banking and investment company providing products and services in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, USA and other markets. It offers wealth and asset management, lending and private banking, corporate finance and advisory services, treasury, trading, equity and investment products, transactional banking as well as life insurance, offshore banking, capital markets, cash management, structured products, foreign exchange, preference shares, medical practice finance, online banking and more. Investec shares are listed on the Johannesburg and London stock exchanges.

See also: Full List of Banks in South Africa

Top 5 Banks in South Africa

 The table below shows the five largest banks in South Africa ranked by total assets in U.S. dollars.

Rank Bank Total Assets, US$b Balance Sheet
1 Standard Bank Group 156.482 06/30/2019
2 FirstRand Ltd 118.167 06/30/2019
3 Absa Group Ltd 97.468 06/30/2019
4 Nedbank Group Ltd 77.991 06/30/2019
5 Investec Ltd 76.797 03/31/2019

 Credit Ratings

Bank Moody’s Fitch Standard & Poor’s Outlook
Standard Bank of South Africa Baa3 BB+ - Negative
FirstRand Bank Ltd Baa3 - BB Negative
Absa Bank Ltd Baa3 BB+ - Negative
Nedbank Limited Baa3 - BB Stable
Investec Bank Ltd Baa3 BB+ BB Negative