HSBC in South Africa

HSBC South Africa, part of the HSBC Group, offers its clients global reach and connectivity as well as in-depth local knowledge.

The HSBC Group established a presence in sub-Saharan Africa in 1981 and entered the South African market in 1995. We now comprise HSBC Bank plc Johannesburg Branch, which is a branch of HSBC Bank plc (incorporated in the United Kingdom) and HSBC Securities (South Africa) Pty Ltd. The Bank’s principal activities in South Africa are providing banking services to our corporate and wholesale clients, as well as a representative office for the Private Bank.

HSBC’s connectivity and worldwide footprint enables us to offer our corporate clients a global perspective combined with local knowledge and expertise. We connect customers with opportunities across 90 per cent of the world’s trade flows.

Our dedicated relationship managers, along with regional and global account managers and product experts, are able to offer specialist products and knowledge to Treasurers and Chief Financial Officers.

HSBC Bank plc-Johannesburg branch does not provide any services to retail and personal banking clients. We are a branch for corporate customers only, and we unfortunately do not have any ability to support Personal Banking customers with personal banking matters such as cash, ATM services or with the collection of credit and debit cards. We would be grateful if you would call your HSBC help centre based in the country in which you opened your HSBC account, and seek advice from them. You can find the correct telephone number on the HSBC website, along with answers to a number of frequently asked questions.

Please visit the website at:

For details about HSBC’s global operations, Group board members and financial results, go to our corporate website

HSBC South Africa has a Level 1 BEE rating making it one of the top rated international banks operating in South Africa. Achieving this rating over the past four years is a significant achievement that reflects HSBC's commitment to South Africa and the investment in its people.

A strong BEE rating requires deep commitment and ongoing implementation of a strategy that extends beyond compliance with minimum criteria. HSBC is therefore determined to implement actions that will see it maintain and support transformation efforts.

Media contact:

FTI Consulting:
+27 (0)82 775 4743

HSBC Group history timeline


Hong Kong harbour, Chinese artist, early 1860s

Staff in Fuzhou, China, 1887

Portrait of Thomas Jackson, around 1890

Chinese railway bond certificate, 1907

Staff in military uniform, First World War

Hong Kong building, 1965

Prison camp diary of HSBC staff member Max Haymes, 1943

Hong Kong garment factory, around 1950

Persian banknote, early 20th century

UK cash machine, around 1970

HSBC office, New York, 1999

HSBC lion, London, present day

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The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited opened in Hong Kong on 3 March 1865 and in Shanghai one month later. It was the first locally owned bank to operate according to Scottish banking principles.

By 1875 HSBC was present in seven countries across Asia, Europe and North America. It financed the export of tea and silk from China, cotton and jute from India, sugar from the Philippines and rice and silk from Vietnam.

By 1900, after strong growth under Chief Manager Thomas Jackson, the bank had expanded into 16 countries and was financing trade across the world. Bullion, exchange and merchant banking were important features of the bank’s business.

In the early 20th century, HSBC widened the scope of its activities in Asia. It issued loans to national governments to finance modernisation and infrastructure projects such as railway building.

The First World War brought disruption and dislocation to many businesses. By the 1920s, however, Asia was beginning to prosper again as new industries developed and trade in commodities such as rubber and tin soared.

The 1930s brought recession and turmoil to many markets. Nonetheless, HSBC asked architects Palmer and Turner to design a new head office in Hong Kong: “Please build us the best bank in the world.” The cutting-edge art deco building opened in 1935.

The bank faced one of its most challenging times during the Second World War. Staff in Asia showed huge courage in the face of adversity. Many became prisoners of war. Only the London, Indian and US branches remained in full operation.

At the end of the war, HSBC took on a key role in the reconstruction of the Hong Kong economy. Its support helped established manufacturers as well as newcomers to Hong Kong grow their business.

By the 1970s the bank had expanded through acquisition. HSBC bought Mercantile Bank and The British Bank of the Middle East in 1959. In 1972 it formed a merchant banking arm, extending its range of services.

In the 1980s HSBC bought Marine Midland Bank in the US. In 1992, the newly created HSBC Holdings plc made a recommended offer for full ownership of the UK’s Midland Bank. Following the acquisition, HSBC moved its headquarters to London.

In 1998, the bank announced it would adopt a unified brand, using HSBC and the hexagon symbol everywhere it operated.

Our purpose – Opening up a world of opportunity – explains why we exist. We’re here to use our unique expertise, capabilities, breadth and perspectives, opening up a world of opportunity for our customers.

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