Starting Business has a wealth of experience in bank account opening and have established working relationships with a host of reputable international banks. View details on the South Africa banking system below, and the factors which affect the opening a South Africa bank account. You will see the laws and regulations as well as a list of banks that operate in South Africa.
The South African banking system is well developed and effectively regulated. The banking sector comprises a central bank (South African Reserve Bank), a few large, financially strong banks and investment institutions and a number of smaller banks. In the last couple of years many foreign banks and investment institutions have set up operations in South Africa. The Banks Act is primarily based on similar legislation as in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
Although no formal agreements have been concluded towards a consistent international position in the area of banking regulation, there have been amendments to exchange controls as well as financial market legislation, making South Africa an attractive investment prospect.
The National Payment System Act of 1998 was introduced to bring the South African financial settlement system in line with international practice regarding settlement systems and systematic risk management procedures. The National Payment System Act confers greater powers and duties on the South African Reserve Bank in respect of providing clearing and settlement facilities.
The Payment Association of South Africa (PASA), under the supervision of the South African Reserve Bank, has facilitated the introduction of payment clearinghouse agreements. It has also introduced agreements pertaining to settlement, clearing and netting agreements and rules to create certainty and reduce systemic and other risks in inter-bank settlement. These developments have brought South Africa in line with international inter-bank settlement practice.
Investment and merchant banking remains the most competitive front in the industry, while the big four banks – Standard, FirstRand, Nedcor and Absa – continue to consolidate their grip on the retail market, and could account for 90% of all retail accounts within the next three years.
In 1985 a department for bank supervision was created in the Reserve Bank to monitor the foreign activities of South African banking institutions. With this step South Africa confirmed its support of the Basle Concordat of June 1983, in terms of which central banks undertake to extend their supervisory activities to include the international activities of banking institutions to facilitate closer co-operation between the supervising authorities.
Following the recommendations made in 1985 by the De Kock commission of inquiry into the monetary system and monetary policy in South Africa, the functions of this department were expanded further in 1986 to include the supervision of the domestic activities of all banks – a task previously performed by the Registrar of Financial Institutions.
An office headed by the Registrar of Banks, operating as part of the Reserve Bank, is responsible for registering institutions as banks or mutual banks as well as enforcing all the requirements of the Acts.
The registrar acts with relative autonomy in executing his duties, but has to report annually on his activities to the minister of finance, who in turn has to table this report in Parliament. The extent of supervision entails, amongst others, the establishment of certain capital and liquidity requirements and the continuous monitoring of the institutions’ adherence to legal requirements and other guidelines.
The performance of an individual institution is also monitored on an ongoing basis against developments in the relevant sector as a whole. If deemed necessary, inspectors can be appointed to inspect the affairs of any bank or any institution or person not registered as a bank if there is reason to suspect that such an institution or person is carrying on the business of banking.
Financial Institutions Operating
In addition to some leading European and American banking groups represented in South Africa the top twenty banks of South Africa are:
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