It seemed like a bloodbath. Standard Bank's first-half headline earnings fell 44%; Absa's declined 82%; Nedbank's were down 69%. Yet surprisingly, perhaps, all three emphasised their resilience and profitability — and in many ways that was true.

A lockdown that was one of the world's toughest hit their transaction volumes and fee income, while sharp cuts in interest rates hit their interest income — and with the economy in shock and more than 80% of staff working from home, the business of banking was far from normal.

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