Customers were a lot happier with FNB last year – but far angrier at Standard and Capitec

Business Insider SA

  • There were dramatic swings in complaint numbers in 2021, new statistics from the Ombudsman for Banking Services show.
  • Complaints against First National Bank plummeted.
  • But both Standard Bank and Capitec saw a big increase in formal complaints.
  • For more stories go to

Last year saw big changes in the number of complaints for three of South Africa's big banks, new data from the Ombudsman for Banking Services shows.

For one bank, complaints plummeted, but for two others they increased by nearly a third.

Ombud Reana Steyn released the annual data this week, saying the reasons South Africans formally complained about their banks remained roughly the same as ever: fraud, maladministration by banks, closure of bank accounts, and repossessions.

The overall number of complaints received by the ombud office was also roughly the same as the year before, with a 7% increase in adjudicated complaints, and a 9% increase in cases finalised. 

However, the split of those complaints between the big banks was rather different than in 2020.

Last year, First National Bank (FNB) was the only bank to breach 2,000 complaints for the year, making it the most complained-about bank in the country by a big margin.

But in 2021, complaints against FNB plummeted by 34%, to well under 1,500.

By contrast, complaints against Standard Bank rocketed up by nearly 32% – making it the only bank to breach 2,000 complaints last year.

Capitec saw a similar huge increase in complaints, albeit off a lower base, bringing it to 1,651 complaints in total.

Nedbank saw little change, an increase of 4.3%, while cases against Absa were up by 13.3%, taking it just above 1,000 again.

Between teething trouble and a low base in 2020, the numbers for relative newcomers TymeBank and Discovery Bank have to be taken with a pinch of salt – especially as Tyme saw what comes to an 870.8% increase. Discovery's complaint count dropped by 26.7%.

Complaints about internet banking were the most typical in 2021, Steyn said in a statement, although people unhappy with their bank after being defrauded was still very common. 

In 73% of all the cases closed, the ombud found in favour of the bank. In just under 16% of cases, banks were held fully liable for claims by their customers.

People who turned to the ombud received rewards totalling R19.4 million, Steyn said.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.