Publication Date: 12/06/2018

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) recently published its annual bank supervision report for 2017, which details the state of the country’s registered banks to 31 December 2017.

According to the report, total banking sector assets increased from R4.88 trillion in December 2016 to R5.16 trillion at the end of 2017. Gross loans and advances grew by 2.54% in 2017, a decline compared to the 2.98% recorded in December 2016.

Over the review period, new commercial banking licences were issued to TymeDigital (Commonwealth Bank of South Africa Limited) and Discovery Bank, with the SARB now listing their asset values along with all other registered banks in the country.

As both banks are yet to start trading in South Africa officially, their asset values are quite low – but their positioning among South Africa’s biggest banks shows what challenge they face in the local market.

Capitec, which is climbing its way to being the top bank in the country by customer numbers, puts this in perspective, as the bank is still ranked below Investec (5th overall) in terms of its assets. It should be noted, however, that Capitec is not a full service bank that offers home loans and other high-value credit options.
Mutual banks
The SARB report also provides insight into the country’s mutual banks – with VBS Mutual Bank topping the list at the end of the review period. It has since emerged that VBS’ financials have been severely mismanaged, which led to the group being put under curatorship earlier in the year.

A new mutual bank entering the South African market, Bank Zero – has been granted authorisation to establish a mutual bank in the country, but by the end of the review period (December 2017) had not yet registered as one – thus its assets are not included in the tables below.

Bank Zero is expected to launch later in 2018.

These are are the biggest banks in South Africa by asset value, according to the SARB’s report.

#BankAssets (R million)Growth
1Standard Bank1 254 849+1.64%
2FirstRand Bank1 120 747+10.23%
3Absa983 378+7.51%
4Nedbank892 006+2.60%
5Investec415 285+7.29%
6Capitec87 033+21.34%
7African Bank31 356-14.00%
8Grindrod Bank16 696+9.91%
9Mercantile Bank12 892+8.97%
10Bidvest Bank8 508+21.39%
11Sasfin7 778+14.29%
12Albaraka Bank5 930+10.10%
13Ubank5 224+12.90%
14HBZ Bank4 856+14.97%
15South African Bank of Athens2 355+3.95%
16Tyme Digital (Commonwealth Bank of South Africa)1 403+100.00%
17Habib Overseas Bank1 186+4.61%
18Discovery Bank622+100.00%

The table below shows the biggest mutual banks in South Africa.

#BankAssets (R million)Growth
1VBS Mutual Bank2 401+55.6%
2Finbond Mutual Bank1 603%
3GBS Mutual Bank1 376%

Foreign banks
The Reserve Bank’s list also includes 15 international banks that have local branches.

Looking at these asset values, it’s striking to see how large some of these banks are, with four actually ranking within the 10 biggest banks in the country, overall.

One foreign bank in particular has been making headlines in South Africa in 2018, namely India’s Bank of Baroda, which announced plans to leave the country completely. This past weekend the Hawks raided the bank’s offices as part of an investigation into state capture.

The table below shows the biggest foreign banks in the country, with local branches.

#BankAssets (R million)Growth
1Citibank NA58 756-9.53%
2HSBC47 717+5.79%
3Bank of China44 341+35.74%
4China Construction Bank36 098-3.91%
5JPMorgan Chase33 939+18.99%
6Standard Chartered Bank33 493+3.75%
7BNP Paribas13 748+22.70%
8Deutsche Bank10 450+0.60%
9Société Générale8 935+13.48%
10State Bank of India8 602+15.64%
11Bank of Baroda2 779-29.47%
12Bank of Taiwan2 365+17.78%
13ICIC Bank584+116.79%
14Canara Bank488+48.65%
15Bank of India472+10.53%