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Africa is the third largest continent in the world, where South Africa is located. In 2021, South Africa had over 59 million inhabitants. It is a country with a bustling and important economy. Enjoy and find out which are the three largest banks in South Africa, how they work, a brief history and much more!

Find out which are the four largest banks in South Africa

1 – Standard Bank Group

One of the largest financial institutions in all of Africa, Standard Bank Group is a South African bank. The bank was founded in the year 1862 and is currently one of the three largest banks in South Africa. The bank’s headquarters are located in the city of Johannesburg (South Africa).

Standard Bank Group has a wide range of financial services, offered to customers and non-customers. They are banking services for people and public and private companies, for example: accounts, investments, loans, changes and others. The bank also has international operations around the world: in addition to Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.


One of the milestones in the history of the South African bank is its action to support small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs, which accelerated the economy throughout the African continent. Standard Bank Group also states that it is committed to its sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

The financial group carries out various actions and programs focused on sustainable growth, preservation of the environment, protection of natural resources, as well as financial education programs and community support

2 – FirstRand Limited

Another of the three largest banks in South Africa. FirstRand Limited stands out as a financial institution that has various financial groups. The group has the most recent foundation date: 1998. The bank’s headquarters are located in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa.


Currently, the South African bank has operations all over the world and its main financial groups are:

  • First National Bank (FNB): largest division of the bank in South Africa that operates with a large number of banking services (current accounts, savings, credit cards, loans, mortgages and other services).
  • WesBank: division of the bank that operates with the vehicle finance market. For example, it has financing services for the purchase of vehicles and for corporate equipment. The division operates through alliances with stores and automobile dealerships, thus offering a wide variety of automotive services and products for special conditions.

In addition, FirstRand Limited brings together other important divisions:

  • Rand Merchant Bank (RMB): division that operates with asset management.
  • Ashburton Investments: division that works with high-value investments, generally equities.

3 – Absa Group Limited

Absa Group Limited is one of the three largest banks in South Africa. Until around 1991, the financial institution was called Amalgamated Banks of South Africa.

In 2013, Barclays Africa Group acquired a significant stake in the bank, and the institution was renamed Absa Group Limited. The South African bank Absa Group Limited offers a wide range of financial and banking services.

The institution works with individuals, as well as public and private companies. The bank’s services range from checking accounts, savings, financing, and loans to high-net-worth services and products, asset management, and securities.

There are numerous branches throughout South Africa. Additionally, the bank operates in other regions and continents, besides Africa and South Africa.

Like the largest banks in South Africa, Absa Group Limited is headquartered in the city of Johannesburg.

4 – Nedbank

In addition to the banks mentioned above, the banking sector in South Africa is currently dominated by four major financial institutions.

Nedbank is also a large bank in South Africa.

It operates with a lot of banking services for retail and companies. In addition to Africa and South Africa, it has international operations in different countries and continents.

Banks in South Africa

South Africa’s banking sector is regulated by the South African Reserve Bank. The region’s banking market is practically controlled by four large financial groups: Standard Bank, FirstRand Group ABSA and Nedbank.

It is significant to know that South Africa is one of the main countries in world trade, especially in exports of mineral wealth.

How foreigners can open a bank account in South Africa

Foreign individuals who wish to open a current account in a South African bank require various documents and procedures for this operation. For example, it is necessary for the individual’s country of origin to have a diplomatic or commercial agreement with South Africa.

Most countries in the Americas have relations with South Africa, so that should be fine. In order for foreigners to access banking services in South Africa, a valid foreign work visa is required. Additionally, immigration personal documents, proof of address, and others may also be necessary.

But, the country has other financial and banking institutions, which are smaller, but are also part of the South African sector and are also very important for the economy of that country.

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