Competition in South Africa’s highly concentrated banking sector has led to it having the highest penetration rates – both in terms of credit to GDP and banked customers – of any African country. The sector had recovered from the effects of the global financial crisis on the real economy by the start of 2012, but significant uncertainties remain, stemming mainly from the flat growth outlook in the EU, the key market for South Africa’s exports. Despite downside economic risk on the domestic and external fronts, South African lenders remain more profitable than their Western peers. Complying with a raft of new rules will pose its own challenges and bring associated costs, yet remaining at the forefront of regulatory change globally should cement the country’s position as the continent’s most transparent and resilient segment.
This chapter contains interviews with Gill Marcus, Governor, South Africa Reserve Bank; and Riaan Stassen, Chief Executive, Capitec Bank; as well as a roundtable with Maria Ramos, CEO, Absa Group; Sizwe Nxasana, CEO, FirstRand; Michael Brown, CEO, Nedbank Group; and Sim Tshabalala, Joint Group CEO, Standard Bank.