South Africa’s positive track record of macroeconomic management as well as steady economic growth in the face of a harsh global environment have boosted the international credit and investment ratings and the general business and consumer confidence. However, joblessness, poverty, the wealth gap and HIV/Aids continue to dampen the otherwise optimistic outlook.It is in this context that this volume explores the theme of financial development and banking the ‘unbanked’. The focus area is the extent to which financial development and accessibility offer a window of opportunity for reaching higher and more equitable economic growth and for tackling the frontiers of poverty.There is general consensus that financial development and access to finance, especially among the marginalised, in the context of macroeconomic stability, are necessary elements for economic growth. Macro-economic stability indirectly plays its role by fostering macroeconomic certainty, predictability and credibility. Financial development contributes, inter alia, to mobilisation of savings, facilitates risk diversification and pooling, enhances selection of the best investment opportunities and fosters corporate governance through its monitoring systems. Most pertinently, accessible financial services such as banking can assist poor and vulnerable households to hedge themselves against negative shocks such as loss of a job, death of a breadwinner or a natural disaster.Although South Africa enjoys a well-developed financial sector by global standards, it is still inaccessible to a majority of domestic investors, the emerging small business sector and households. It appears that current debates question the appropriateness of the financial architecture for the under-serviced demand side, on the one hand, and the associated risk profile, on the other. The supply and demand challenges in financial development and access to financial services are linked and they require equal attention from researchers, the private sector, macro and microeconomic policy makers.This volume consists of two articles. The first article explores pertinent issues related to financial development as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. It is an overview of the challenges of measuring various dimensions of access, the current status of access to a range of financial products in the market and how the ‘unbanked’ cater for their unmet needs. It then concludes with pointers for policy and institutional development.After reviewing the existing literature on the relationship between financial development, economic growth and poverty alleviation, the second article offers an international perspective on factors that hinder financial development and how they can be dealt with.In addition to facilitating policy discourse and making research findings accessible to a wider readership, the Labour Markets and Social Frontiers series also contributes to sharing available data and information on various themes that it periodically covers. This issue includes an appendix consisting of a limited selection of indicators from available sources comparing the banked and ‘unbanked’ in South Africa.