Love or hate them, it’s difficult to imagine life without banks. Practically every transaction nowadays involves a bank in some way. Sometimes, it’s very convenient to do business that way. At other times, we don’t like to cough up the banking fees. But they’re a part of life, and South Africa is no exception in this regard.
In fact, South Africa has a particularly well-developed financial services sector. From security features to investment products, it’s possible to do virtually anything financially in South Africa. You can read more about investment on the Investment page. This page gives information on banking in South Africa.
The South African banking sector is dominated by five large banks. These are (not in any order of priority) ABSA, Nedbank, Standard Bank, First National Bank (commonly known as FNB) and Capitec. They all offer roughly the same products at roughly the same fee structures. In fact, lower fees are a selling point in marketing campaigns. Banks in South Africa charge a fee for virtually everything they do, so do not be surprised by this.
Opening a bank account in South Africa requires that you complete the “KYC” (Know Your Customer) procedure, as prescribed by South African law. Basically, this entails presenting a valid passport or South African ID book and proof of your residential address to the bank. Take note that for the purposes of KYC you cannot use photocopies – you must present the original documents. When opening an account for a company, you are required to present the founding registration documents of the company, together with proof of the company’s operating address.
For foreigners, there are restrictions on the type of account that you can open. People who only have a tourist visa can only open a basic cash account (receipt of funds and withdrawals only), while permanent residents in South Africa will have no such trouble.
In general, it is advisable to shop around before you commit to a particular bank, although you may find, as mentioned above, that there is really very little to choose from, and although the financial sector is well-developed and a proper system, service is poor in general.