South African online banking battle


FNB is leading the online banking race in South Africa, but Standard Bank, Nedbank, Absa, and Capitec are closing the gap.

Online banking is a core offering for banks and is the preferred engagement medium for many South Africans.

It has become so pervasive that some new banks, like Bank Zero, only have a digital offering without any branches.

Banks encourage their clients to use their online channels and mobile apps because it reduces costs and creates customer loyalty.

Assessing which bank is performing the best in marketing its online products is not easy because the data is not publicly available.

However, a few online sources provide a glimpse into the success of banks’ marketing campaigns to drive users to their websites and apps.

Two sources are Similarweb, which measures website engagements, and Google Trends, which measures search trends.

In these comparisons, it is important to keep the number of clients per bank in mind. The more clients a bank has, the better its online performance should be.

Capitec has the most South African clients at 18.1 million, followed by Standard Bank with 10.1 million, Absa with 9.6 million, FNB with 9.1 million, and Nedbank with 6.4 million.

FNB achieved the best ratio of website visitors per client base, followed by Nedbank, Standard Bank, Absa, and Capitec.

An interesting discovery was that BusinessTech was the top publisher for referral traffic among the top four banks.

Other publishers who provided a significant amount of referral traffic to banks included News24, MyBroadband, CareersPortal, TopAuto, and IOL.

The two sections below show how the banks stack up when it comes to search term popularity and website visitors.

Google Search

Google Trends analyses the popularity of top search queries in Google Search and makes it easy to compare search terms.

According to Google Trends, FNB has significantly more searches than competing banks like Standard Bank, Capitec, Absa, and Nedbank.

The chart below shows the search term popularity of the top banks over the last eighteen years.

Similarweb – Banking website engagement

SimilarWeb is an Israeli web analytics company specialising in web traffic and performance.

SimilarWeb’s data shows that FNB has the most website traffic and engagements, followed by Standard Bank, Nedbank, Absa, and Capitec.

Capitec is the worst performer based on the number of clients. It is likely a result of its client demographics and a lack of marketing to promote its online services.