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South Africa Country Report

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  • Published Date: September 2017

A comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in South Africa.


  • The payments industry in South Africa has evolved quite rapidly in the past few years. The cards market especially has seen a significant uptake. Cash has been losing favour with the South African consumer, especially in the urban market. In recent times, the use of cash in the urban context has declined to about 30 per cent. However, in the rural context, cash remains the undisputed leader. As of 2016, about 77 per cent of the South African population had banking access.
  • Debit cards dominate the market with an estimated 56 million active cards in 2016. A key driver in the growth of debit cards has been the government's focus on financial inclusion using the SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) debit card. Launched in partnership with Mastercard, as of 2016 about 17 million SASSA debit cards with biometric functionality had been distributed to social-grant recipients across the country. Growth in the POS infrastructure has also fostered debit cards use. Banks for their part have also been encouraging customers to use their debit cards more frequently rather than cash.
  • Technological development is one of the major reasons for the growth of payment card transactions in South Africa, with major players currently focusing on initiatives to drive the use of digital and electronic platforms for transactional banking. With mobile-penetration levels increasing from 159 per 100 inhabitants to over 170 per 100 inhabitants, mobile banking has already emerged as a game-changer.
  • In addition to general-purpose credit cards, a significant number of store cards have been issued by large retailers in the country, including Edcon, Foschini and Truworths. These store cards are mainly issued as instalment cards. There were about 19 million store cards at the end of 2016 (a drop of 16 per cent when compared with 2013), representing a penetration rate of 48 cards per 100 adults.
  • The credit cards market has been a profitable business segment for South African banks. Pre-tax profits reached an estimated $123 million in 2016, an increase of 15 per cent compared with the previous year. They are estimated to increase further to $132 million in 2017. This translates to a profit per card of $10 in 2016.

South Africa Payments Research | Report Contents

Research summary
The economy
Retail banking
Consumer finance market
Cards market
Profit pool
Pricing and enhancements
The networks: credit cards
The networks: debit cards
Merchant acquiring and processing
Online acquiring
Regulatory and other cards market information

Appendix I: Demographics

  • Population metrics
  • Ownership of key consumer goods
  • Internet usage by population

Appendix II: The economy

  • Major economic indicators

Appendix III: Retail banking

  • Major retail banking indicators
  • Banking/infrastructure penetration
  • Retail banks key metrics
  • Retail banks profit & loss metrics

Appendix IV: Consumer finance market

  • Consumer credit outstandings and indebtedness
  • Consumer credit outstandings by product

Appendix V: South Africa cards market

  • Credit card numbers
  • Retailer card numbers
  • Total credit card metrics
  • Consumer credit cards metrics
  • Commercial credit cards metrics
  • Credit cards profitability Indicators
  • Debit card numbers
  • Debit cards metrics

Appendix VI: Profit pool

  • Profit pool

Appendix VII: Pricing and enhancements

  • Card pricing and enhancements

Appendix VIII: The networks: credit cards

  • Networks' credit card market shares
  • Networks' credit card numbers
  • Networks' credit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of credit card transactions
  • Networks' average credit card transaction value
  • Credit card interchange fees by network

Appendix IX: The networks: debit cards

  • Networks' debit card market shares
  • Networks' debit card numbers
  • Networks' debit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of debit card transactions
  • Networks' average debit card transaction value
  • Debit card interchange fees by network

Appendix X: Card issuers

  • Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers
  • Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings
  • Retail card key issuers market shares
  • Key debit card Issuers market shares by debit card numbers

Appendix XI: Merchant acquiring and processing

  • Merchant acquirer credit card market share
  • Credit card merchant service charges
  • Merchant acquirer debit card market share
  • Debit card merchant service charges
  • Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships
  • Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships
  • Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers
  • Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions

Appendix XII: Online acquiring

  • Online merchant acquirer market share


Verisk financial reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit in Africa. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and Africa finance experts.

See more Africa Country Reports or explore the full range of cards and payments reports available for 72 markets worldwide.

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