The South African Bank Lending Practices Survey, measures credit sentiment across the banking industry and continues with its three themes of household lending, enterprise lending and the strategic direction of banks. This survey is based on the first quarter of 2021, from January to March and a combination of a survey and interviews with certain senior bank lending executives from the contributing banks forms the basis of this working paper.
As at the end of March 2021, the total domestic assets of the South African banking industry were approximately R5 521 billion. This was about R25 billion lower than the total balance sheet of the banks in our previous Survey, at approximately R5 546 billion. The Survey in March 2020 recorded an extraordinary month-on-month increase of R258 billion. Month-on-month growth in total industry balance sheets since then have been negative for 6 out of the 12 months until March 2021. In March 2021, the month-on-month growth of the total assets of the banking industry decreased by the largest single amount of R65 billion since the inception of the Survey in September 2017. Although significant variations were experienced during the past year, the total balance sheet growth was still positive from pre-Covid levels to date. The total bank balance sheet pre-Covid was approaching R5.3 trillion and has been sustained at levels over R5.5 trillion for the past year.
In the previous Survey, banks indicated a general preference towards household lending over lending to enterprises would be likely going forward, and this was evidenced by the data with R53 billion in loans to households with R33 billion to enterprises.