In the late 1990s 45 banks, mutual banks and homeland banks were operating in SA. That fell to a low of 18 by 2010, following a crisis of confidence in small banks. But the long hiatus since is over with the count of banks back up to 23 following a rush of new entrants. What will it mean for the marketplace? A look back at the last upcycle reveals a few things.

Bank registration rates follow regulator and market appetites. The last strong upcycle was in the mid-1990s when the new ANC government encouraged licensing to drive competition and the creation of black-owned banks. A raft of new investment banks had their eyes on lucrative government advisory contracts. Those that entered were focused on the fruits of restructuring — advising the government on how to raise funding and sell assets.

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