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Glossary of Cash Transfer Programming 

* The Glossary was updated in August 2017 following consultations with a range of stakeholders. It has been approved by CaLP’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG), and recommended for adoption by participants in the cash workstream of the Grand Bargain, and the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) group

In the period since CaLP produced its first glossary in 2011, the scale and variety of cash transfer programming (CTP) has expanded significantly, and brought the engagement of a wider and more diverse community of practice. These changes have also been reflected in an evolving understanding and use of some definitions, and the introduction of multiple new terms into the cash transfer programming lexicon.

This updated CaLP glossary has been compiled in order to capture these changes, with the intention of providing clarity and to encourage, so far as possible, the harmonised use and common understanding of CTP terminology. It should be noted that these definitions are largely intended for application in relation to CTP in humanitarian programming contexts, and may not reflect how these terms are understood in other contexts or by other audiences.

Please send your feedback, and/or queries you may have, to Ruth McCormack (CaLP Senior Programme Officer) at programmes@cashlearning.org


Activation (prepaid card or SIM): Linking a person with a specific card or SIM and authorizing use of the card or SIM (by SMS, online activation, or phone). Also known as “personalization.” 

Agent: An entity or retail outlet where an e-cash transfer can be spent or redeemed for cash, and/or where e-cash account holders can perform other transactions. Different Financial Service Providers (FSP) – such as banks, mobile network operators or remittance companies – can have agents. Agents are managed by an FSP, not a humanitarian agency.

See also Financial Service Provider (FSP)

Aggregator: An entity that consolidates financial transactions for processing, such as providing a single platform to execute payments via multiple FSPs.

See also Financial Service Provider (FSP)

Asset: Any physical, financial, human or social item of economic value owned by an individual or corporation, especially that which could be converted to cash. Assets can be categorized as human, physical, natural, financial and social.

Assistance Modality: ‘Assistance modality’ refers to the form of assistance – e.g. cash transfer, vouchers, in-kind, service delivery, or a combination. This can include both direct transfers to household level, and assistance provided at a more general or community level e.g. health services, WASH infrastructure.

Authentication: The process of verifying a person’s identity.

Bank Information Number (BIN):The first six digits on a debit card that represent the issuing bank. The issuing bank is responsible for the cards they release based on their banking license requirements and therefore interprets KYC requirements.

Basic Needs: The items that people need to survive. This can include safe access to essential goods and services such as food, water, shelter, clothing, health care, sanitation and education.

Biometric Authentication: Technologies that measure and analyse human physical and/or behavioural characteristics for authentication purposes e.g. fingerprint, voice print, iris recognition.

Bulk Payment: A simultaneous transfer of funds from an entity to many recipients.

Cash Based Assistance (CBA): CBA refers to all programs where cash (or vouchers for goods or services) is directly provided to beneficiaries. In the context of humanitarian assistance, the term is used to refer to the provision of cash transfers or vouchers given to individuals, household or community recipients; not to governments or other state actors. CBA covers all modalities of cash based assistance, including vouchers. This excludes remittances and microfinance in humanitarian interventions (although microfinance and money transfer institutions may be used for the actual delivery of cash).

The term can be used interchangeably with Cash Transfer Programming, Cash Based Interventions, and Cash and Voucher Programming

Cash Based Intervention (CBI): CBI refers to all programs where cash (or vouchers for goods or services) is directly provided to beneficiaries. In the context of humanitarian assistance the term is used to refer to the provision of cash or vouchers given to individuals, household or community recipients; not to governments or other state actors. CBI covers all modalities of cashbased assistance, including vouchers. This excludes remittances and microfinance in humanitarian interventions (although microfinance and money transfer institutions may be used for the actual delivery of cash).

The term can be used interchangeably with Cash Based Assistance, Cash Transfer Programming, and Cash and Voucher Programming

Cash for Assets (CFA): Cash payments provided to participants for taking part in projects to create community or public assets, such as irrigation systems, roads etc. This is a form of conditional transfer and a sub-set of Cash for Work relating to those work programs which create assets.

See also Cash for Work (CFW)

Cash for Training (CFT): Cash payments provided for participating in a specified training session or series of training sessions. This is a form of conditional transfer.

Cash for Work (CFW): Cash payments provided on the condition of undertaking designated work. This is generally paid according to time worked (e.g. number of days, daily rate), but may also be quantified in terms of outputs (e.g. number of items produced, cubic metres dug). CFW interventions are usually in public or community work programmes, but can also include home-based and other forms of work.

See also Cash for Assets (CFA)

Cash Modality: ‘Cash modality’ refers to the different types of cash or voucher transfer – e.g. conditional (cash for work, etc.), unconditional, restricted, unrestricted, multipurpose, etc. A single transfer can generally be categorized in terms of several of these variables e.g. a conditional, unrestricted transfer.

Cash Plus: This term refers to complementary programming where CTP is combined with other modalities or activities. Complementary interventions may be implemented by the same agency/agencies providing CTP, or potentially by other agencies working in collaboration. Examples might include provision of training and/or livelihood inputs, or behavioural change communication programmes. 

Cash Transfer: The provision of assistance in the form of money (either physical currency/cash or e-cash) to beneficiaries (individuals, households or communities). Cash transfers as a modality are distinct from both vouchers and in-kind assistance

See also E-Cash

Cash Transfer Programming (CTP): CTP refers to all programs where cash (or vouchers for goods or services) are directly provided to beneficiaries. In the context of humanitarian assistance the term is used to refer to the provision of cash or vouchers given to individuals, household or community recipients; not to governments or other state actors. CTP covers all modalities of cashbased assistance, including vouchers. This excludes remittances and microfinance in humanitarian interventions (although microfinance and money transfer institutions may be used for the actual delivery of cash).

The term can be used interchangeably with Cash Based Interventions, Cash Based Assistance, and Cash and Voucher Programming

Cash and Voucher Programming (CVP): CVP refers to all programs where cash or vouchers for goods or services are directly provided to beneficiaries. In the context of humanitarian assistance the term is used to refer to the provision of cash transfers or vouchers given to individuals, household or community recipients; not to governments or other state actors. CVP covers all modalities of cash-based assistance. This excludes remittances and microfinance in humanitarian interventions (although microfinance and money transfer institutions may be used for the actual delivery of cash).

The term can be used interchangeably with Cash Based Interventions, Cash Based Assistance, and Cash Transfer Programming

Closed Loop: A system in which the institution that issues the payment card is always the same institution that provides the acquiring infrastructure. The card or password can only be used on the acquiring infrastructure of that one institution.

Commodity Voucher: Commodity vouchers are exchanged for a fixed quantity and quality of specified goods or services at participating vendors. Commodity vouchers share some similarities with inkind aid in that they restrict and specify the assistance received, but it is accessed at local markets through traders.

See also Combination Voucher, Value Voucher, and Voucher

Conditionality: Conditionality refers to prerequisite or qualifying conditions that a beneficiary must fulfil to receive a cash transfer or voucher, i.e. activities or obligations that must be fulfilled before receiving assistance. It is distinct from restriction which pertains only to how transfers are used. Conditionality can in principle be used with any kind of cash, voucher or other type of assistance, depending on its objectives and design

See also Conditional Transfer, Unconditional Transfer and Restriction

Conditional Transfer: A conditional transfer requires beneficiaries to undertake a specific action/activity (e.g. attending school, building a shelter, attending nutrition screenings, undertaking work, trainings, etc.) in order to receive assistance; i.e. a condition must be fulfilled before the transfer is received. Cash for Work/Assets/Training are all forms of conditional transfer.

See also Conditionality and Unconditional Transfer

Cost-Benefit Analysis: Compares the value of a program’s net impacts on final outcomes, expressed in monetary terms, with the extra costs associated with implementing the program, also expressed in monetary terms.

Cost-Effectiveness: Cost-effectiveness is the extent to which the program has achieved or is expected to achieve its results (outcomes/impacts) at a lower cost compared with alternatives. Source: World Bank

See also Effectiveness

Cost Effectiveness Analysis: Cost-effectiveness analysis measures the cost of achieving intended programme outcomes and impacts (e.g. improved food consumption, reduced malnutrition rates), and can compare the costs of alternative ways of producing the same or similar benefits.

See also Cost-Effectiveness

Source: DFID

Cost-Efficiency: See Efficiency and Cost Efficiency Analysis.

Cost Efficiency Analysis: The study of the administrative cost of a cash transfer programme relative to the amount disbursed.

See also Efficiency

Critical Market Systems: The specific market systems that are most urgently relevant to the target population’s needs. Essentially those markets that have or could have a major role in meeting the essential needs of the target population.

Source: PCMMA

Delivery Mechanism: Means of delivering a cash or voucher transfer (e.g. smart card, mobile money transfers, cash in envelopes, etc.).

Demand Elasticity (Elasticity of Demand): A measure of how sensitive to price changes is the quantity demanded by buyers. Goods on which people cut back sharply, when prices rise or incomes are reduced (e.g. luxury items) have ‘elastic demand’.

Source: PCMMA

E-Cash: Any electronic substitute for cash that provides full, unrestricted flexibility for purchases. It may be stored, spent, and/or received through a mobile phone, prepaid ATM/debit card or other electronic transfer.

E-Transfer: A digital transfer of money or vouchers from the implementing agency to a program participant. E-transfers provide access to cash, goods and/or services through mobile devices, electronic vouchers, or cards (e.g., prepaid, ATM, credit or debit cards). E-transfer is an umbrella term for e-cash and e-vouchers.

E-Voucher: A card or code that is electronically redeemed at a participating distribution point. E-vouchers can represent cash or commodity value and are redeemed using a range of electronic devices.

See also Combination Voucher, Commodity Voucher, Voucher and Value Voucher

E-Wallet: Software that resides on a smart card or mobile phone SIM card, and holds or can receive electronic cash and a digital signature

Effectiveness: Effectiveness relates to how well outputs are converted to outcomes and impacts (e.g. reduction in poverty gap and inequality, improved nutrition, reduction in school dropout, increased use of health services, asset accumulation by the poor, increased smallholder productivity, social cohesion).

See also Cost-Effectiveness

Source: DFID

Efficiency: Efficiency refers to the ability of a program to achieve its intended objectives at the least cost possible in terms of use of inputs (i.e. capital, labour and other inputs).

See also Cost-Efficiency

Embedded Transaction: A good or service which is not paid for directly but is included or hidden within an exchange of another good or service which is paid for.

Enabling Environment: The enabling environment or rules that influence how a market system works – sometimes these are called ‘dis-enabling’ factors because they make a market system work badly. It forms one ‘layer’ in market system mapping and analysis.

See also Market Map

Financial Inclusion: Financial inclusion means that a full suite of financial services is provided, with quality, to all who can use them, by a range of providers, to financially capable clients.

Source: www.centerforfinancialinclusion.org

Financial Service Provider (FSP): An entity that provides financial services, which may include e-transfer services. Depending upon your context, financial service providers may include e-voucher companies, financial institutions (such as banks and microfinance institutions) or mobile network operators (MNOs). FSPs includes many entities (such as investment funds, insurance companies, accountancy firms) beyond those that offer humanitarian cash transfers or voucher services, hence within CTP literature FSP generally refers to those providing transfer services.

Framework Agreement: An outline of a contract, also known as an umbrella contract, or master services contract. Call off or draw down agreements are similar but include financial information. This usage provided by private sector. Humanitarian agencies may use the term differently

Gap Analysis: The process of calculating a gap in household and/or individual needs. Calculated as: Gap in needs = Total need – (Needs met by affected population + Needs met by other actors).

Income Elasticity of Demand: Measures the responsiveness of the quantity demanded of a good to a change in the income of the people demanding the good. Income elasticity is calculated as the ratio of the percentage change in quantity demanded to the percentage change in income.

Inflation: A measure of increase in price(s) per unit of time (usually denoted in percentage increase per year).

Integrated Markets: Markets in which prices for comparable goods do not behave independently. If markets are well integrated, price changes in one location are consistently related to price changes in other locations and market agents are able to interact between different markets.

Interconnected Markets: A market system which, as well as being a market in its own right, is part of the supporting functions or rules of another market system.

Know Your Customer (KYC): This usually refers to the information that the local regulator requires banks to collect about any potential new customer in order to discourage financial products being used for money laundering or other crimes. Some countries allow banks greater flexibility than others as to the source of this information, and some countries allow lower levels of information for accounts that they deem to be ‘low risk’.

Labour Market System: A labour market system is a market system within which people sell or supply their labour, and others buy this labour (demand).

See also Market System and Labour Market Analysis

Source: Labour Market Analysis in Humanitarian Contexts

Labour Market Analysis: Labour market analysis is about understanding the constraints, capabilities and potential to expand labour opportunities within the market system. In humanitarian contexts, this includes consideration of how target populations in particular access the labour markets and how to strengthen and support existing market actors.

Source: Labour Market Analysis in Humanitarian Contexts

Load Volume: For prepaid cards or mobile money, the total amount to be loaded onto cards or mobile wallets. (Also known as “payment volume.”) Payment volume may also refer to the amount spent by card/wallet holders

Magnetic Strip Card: A plastic card with a magnetic stripe capable of storing data using tiny iron-based magnetic particles on a band on the card and secured by a PIN, a signature or biometrics to verify the identity of the recipient before granting access to the funds.

Market: The term ‘market’ refers to a system of exchange between two or more actors or players. The exchange can be for goods or services, or for money and can take place in a physical space or through virtual media such as the internet. Markets are sometimes defined by forces of supply and demand, rather than geographical location e.g. ‘imported cereals make up 40% of the market’.

Market Analysis: Analysis of market information to understand how a market functions, or how it has been impacted by an event or crisis.

Market-based programming: Market-based programming or market-based interventions are understood to be projects that work through or support local markets. The terms cover all types of engagement with market systems, ranging from actions that deliver immediate relief to those that proactively strengthen and catalyze local market systems or market hubs

Marketplace: A marketplace is where exchanges happen. This is typically a physical place where different wares or goods (and sometimes services) are sold – such as a village or livestock market. Marketplaces are a common starting point to assess the potential to fulfil demand for many consumables from food items to soap and clothing. (NB. The internet is providing more and more ‘marketplaces’ too, however its use by target populations is not well understood)

See also Marketplace Analysis

Marketplace Analysis: Marketplace analysis is a more ‘rapid’ form of analysis and seeks to identify whether and how a physical market place can supply or deliver the goods / services that will be in demand. It focuses on the ‘consumer’ end of the market chain.

See also Marketplace

Market Chain: The market chain describes the core elements making up demand and supply – or all the actors trading (or taking possession) of the good or service within the market system – from consumer through to the primary producer or supplier.

Market Map: A market map is a visual depiction of how an entire market system works, including all the actors in the market, how they relate to each other, the volume of produce being traded / exchanged by different actors, and prices. Market maps contain the following three elements: a) the market chain; b) market services; c) the enabling (or dis-enabling) environment or rules.

See also Enabling Environment, Market Chain, Market System and Market Services

Market Player: Organisations or individuals who are active in a market system not only as suppliers or consumers but as regulators, developers of standards and providers of services, information, etc. This therefore may include organisations in the private and public sectors as well as non-profit organisations, representative organisations, and civil society groups.

Market Services: Market services (also called business services or support functions) refers to any service – public or private – which helps a market function. This market ‘support’ can also be helpful to other parts of people’s wellbeing. For example, a road helps traders transport goods, but is also used by people to access hospitals, schools, visit family etc.

Market System: Market System refers to all the players or actors, and their relationships with each other and with support or business services as well as the enabling environment – or rules and norms that govern the way that system works. Market systems are interconnected when they share the same set of enabling environment / rules / norms and business / support services, for instance when they operate within one country.

See also Market Service, Market Systems Analysis, and Enabling Environment

Market Systems Analysis: Market System analysis uses a systems approach to map out all the social, political, economic, cultural and physical factors affecting how a market operates. The market system approach is useful for complex market systems (like the rental market) of for products with long/international market chains.

Merchant: Supplier of goods and services. They may be contracted by a humanitarian organisation to participate in a cash-based intervention.

See also Trader and Vendor (the terms are interchangeable)

Microcredit: A sub-segment of microfinance that focuses on giving small loans to low-income people for the purpose of allowing them to earn additional income by investing in the establishment or expansion of microenterprises.

Microenterprise: A market-oriented economic activity with – in most definitions – 10 or fewer employees (including the owner and unpaid family members).

Microfinance: The provision of financial services adapted to the needs of micro-entrepreneurs, low income persons, or persons otherwise systematically excluded from formal financial services, especially small loans, small savings deposits, insurance, remittances, and payments services.

Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB): Defined as what a household needs – on a regular or seasonal basis – and its average cost over time. The MEB can be a critical component in the design of interventions including Multipurpose Cash Grants/Assistance (MPG/MCA), with transfer amounts calculated to contribute to meeting the MEB

See also Multipurpose Cash Grant / Multipurpose Cash Assistance 

Mobile Money: Mobile money uses the mobile phone to access financial services such as payments, transfers, insurance, savings, and credit. It is a paperless version of a national currency that can be used to provide humanitarian e-cash payments.

Modality: See Assistance Modality and Cash Modality

Multiplier Effect: Indirect effects of cash transfers whereby increased expenditure by recipients contributes to income growth for non-recipients, expansion of markets for local goods, or increased demands for services. The ‘economic multiplier’ is the estimated number by which a change in some other component of aggregate demand is multiplied to give the total amount by which the national income is increased as a result of direct and indirect benefits from that change in demand.

Multipurpose Cash Grant (MPG)/ Multipurpose Cash Assistance (MCA):  MPGs or MCAs are defined as a transfer (either regular or one-off) corresponding to the amount of money a household needs to cover, fully or partially, a set of basic and/or recovery needs. They are by definition unrestricted cash transfers. The MPG/MCA can contribute to meeting a Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) or other calculation of the amount required to cover basic needs, but can also include other one-off or recovery needs.

See also Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB)

Nominal Prices: The current monetary value of a good or service.

See also Real Prices

Personal Account Number (PAN):The full 16-digit number on a credit, debit, or prepaid card

Point of Service/ Sales (POS): Devices that do not contain any money, but have the capability of performing transactions (carried out in retail stores, restaurants, or mobile locations).

Price Elasticity: A measure of the variability of supply or demand in response to a change in price. Price elasticity of demand is calculated as the ratio of the percentage change in quantity demanded to the percentage change in price. Price elasticity of supply is the ratio of the percentage change in quantity supplied to the percentage change in price.

Public Goods and Services: Public goods and services are those which are provided by the government. For instance major infrastructure, like power supply, roads, clean water, health services or schools. Individuals are not ordinarily expected to pay for public goods or services - though some public services may charge a nominal or subsidised user fee. Access to public services or goods may carry a charge however, for instance bus-fares to travel to a health centre.

Public Works Programmes (or Workfare): Where income support for the poor is given in the form of wages in exchange for work effort. These programs typically provide short-term employment at low wages for unskilled and semiskilled workers on labour-intensive projects such as road construction and maintenance, irrigation infrastructure, reforestation, and soil conservation. Generally seen as a means of providing income support to the poor in critical times rather than as a way of getting the unemployed back into the labour market.

Purchasing Power: The ability to purchase goods (this is usually defined by income).

Private Sector: The private sector includes any actors which generate surplus income / profit through their business operations. This includes small individual traders and micro-enterprises, small firms employing temporary labour, cooperatives with numerous ‘members’ or shareholders, through to multi-national companies. The absolute criteria for what is / isn’t the private sector is blurred, as many private firms are owned by governments, and some enterprises – for instance ‘social enterprises’ – have business plans that generate a profit which is invested back in to society.

Propensity to Consume: Propensity to consume is an economic term used to describe how much of a given amount of money a household has (e.g. income) it actually will spend on a given set of goods and services. Households can choose between what to spend on, as well as how much to ‘spend’ and use / consume, and how much to save and/ or invest in future income possibilities. The marginal propensity to consume is the amount EXTRA that a household intends to spend as a result of receiving more cash.

Real Prices: Prices adjusted for inflation to reflect the purchasing power of the currency in a ‘base’ year, usually using a consumer price index for the corresponding year.

See also Nominal Prices

Remittance: Money sent from one person to another, e.g. money sent home from emigrants working abroad

Remittance Companies: Companies whose only, or primary, service is wiring or transferring money electronically between locations, often from abroad. These companies provide a Cash Collection service, whereby the sender pays cash to have money transferred

Response Analysis (RA) or Response Analysis Framework (RAF): The link between situational analysis (broadly speaking, needs assessment and other contextual information) and programme design. It involves the selection of programme response options, modalities and target groups; and should be informed by considerations of appropriateness and feasibility, and should simultaneously address needs while analysing and minimising potential harmful side-effects.

Source: Maxwell, D. 2013

Restriction: Restriction refers to limits on the use of a transfer, after it has been received by a beneficiary.

Restrictions may describe either the range of goods and services that a transfer can be used to purchase, or the places where a transfer can be used, or both. The degree of restriction may vary – from the requirement to buy specific items, to buying from a general category of goods or services, or to achieve an agreed output (e.g. to repair a shelter, or start-up a livelihood activity). Restriction is distinct from conditionality, which applies only to prerequisite conditions that a beneficiary must fulfil before receiving a transfer.

See also Conditionality, Restricted Transfer and Unrestricted Transfer

Restricted Transfer: A restricted transfer requires the beneficiary to use the assistance provided to purchase particular goods or services. This includes vouchers, which are  restricted by default, and cash transfers where receipt of subsequent transfers is contingent on spending previous transfers on particular goods or services.

See also Restriction and Unrestricted Transfer

Retail Price: The monetary value at which goods and services are exchanged at the end of the retail chain i.e. between the seller and the final consumer.

Safety Nets (SN) or Social Safety Nets: Safety nets target the poor or vulnerable and consist of non-contributory transfers, such as in-kind food, cash or vouchers; they can be provided conditionally or unconditionally. They are a sub-set of broader social protection systems. 

See also Social Assistance and Social Protection

Safety Net System: A collection of programs, ideally well-designed and well-implemented, complementing each other as well as complementing other public or social policies.

Sector-Specific Intervention: This refers to a CTP intervention designed to achieve sector-specific objectives. Sector-specific cash transfers can be restricted or unrestricted, and conditional or unconditional.

Simplified Due Diligence (SDD): Also known as minimal Know-Your Customer (KYC); can be a feature of a card product. National regulations will influence when SDD can be used.

Situation Analysis: An overview of available secondary data and early primary data such as initial Needs Assessment and other contextual information.

Source: MPG Toolkit

Smart Card: A smart card is a device that includes an embedded integrated circuit that can be either a secure microcontroller or equivalent intelligence with internal memory or memory chip alone. The card connects to a reader with direct physical contact or with a remote contactless radio frequency interface. With an embedded microcontroller, smart cards have the unique ability to store large amounts of data, carry out their own on-card functions (e.g. encryption and mutual authentication) and interact intelligently with a smart card reader.

Source: Smart Card Alliance

Social Assistance / Social Assistance Transfers: Repeated, unconditional, predictable transfers of cash, goods or services provided on a long term basis to vulnerable or destitute households or specific individuals (e.g. the elderly, pregnant women), with the aim of allowing them to meet basic needs or build assets to protect themselves and increase resilience against shocks and vulnerable periods of the life cycle. Usually refers to government assistance provided in cash, but can also refer to in-kind assistance.

See also Safety Nets and Social Protection

Social Protection: Actions carried out by the state or privately, to address risk, vulnerability and chronic poverty. Social protection refers to comprehensive systems including safety nets, social assistance, labour market policies, social insurance options (e.g. contributory pensions, health insurance), and basic social services (e.g. in education, health and nutrition).

See also Safety Nets and Social Assistance

Supply Elasticity: The responsiveness of the quantity of a good supplied by traders and others relative to the change in its price (price elasticity of supply) or other factors (e.g. income of the supplier).

Trader: Supplier of goods and services. They may be contracted by a humanitarian organisation to participate in a cash-based intervention.

See also Merchant and Vendor (the terms are interchangeable)

Unconditional Transfer: Unconditional transfers are provided to beneficiaries without the recipient having to do anything in return in order to receive the assistance.

Unrestricted Transfer: Unrestricted transfers can be used entirely as the recipient chooses i.e. there are no direct limitations imposed by the implementing agency on how the transfer is spent. Cash transfers are by default unrestricted, unless they require beneficiaries to spend their cash on particular goods or services in order to receive subsequent transfers .

See also Restriction  

Value Chain: A sequence or “chain” of activities carried out by multiple enterprises to produce and sell goods and services. As a raw material travels along this chain, each company adds to the value of the good or service until the final product is delivered to the consumer.

Value for Money: VfM refers to the optimal use of resources to achieve the best outcomes for people affected by crisis and disaster.

Source: DFID

Value Voucher: A value voucher has a denominated cash value and can be exchanged with participating vendors for goods or services of an equivalent monetary cost. Value vouchers tend to provide relatively greater flexibility and choice than commodity vouchers, but are still necessarily restricted as they can only be exchanged with designated vendors.

Vendor: Supplier of goods and services. They may be contracted by a humanitarian organisation to participate in a cash-based intervention.

See also Merchant and Trader (the terms are interchangeable)

Village Savings and Loans: An informal microfinance model based solely on member savings and small, community-managed groups. Members pool savings and provide loans with interest to each other. The interest is then disbursed to group members, based on their level of savings, at the end of a time-limited cycle.

Voucher: A paper, token or e-voucher that can be exchanged for a set quantity or value of goods, denominated either as a cash value (e.g. $15) or predetermined commodities or services (e.g. 5 kg maize; milling of 5kg of maize), or a combination of value and commodities. They are redeemable with preselected vendors or in ‘fairs’ created by the agency. Vouchers are used to provide access to a range of goods or services, at recognized retail outlets or service centers. Vouchers are by default a restricted form of transfer, although there are wide variations in the degree of restriction/flexibility different voucher-based programmes may provide. The terms vouchers, stamps, or coupons are often used interchangeably. 

See also Combination Voucher, Commodity Voucher, E-Voucher and Value Voucher

White Labeling: A service offering with minimal customization.  (i.e., taking the standard product or service as-is and applying the program or organization’s branding.). For example, an NGO using a company’s standard prepaid card scheme with program branding

Wholesale Price: The monetary value at which a retailer purchases goods in bulk for onward selling to consumers, usually in smaller quantities and at an increased price. 

Willingness to Pay: This is an estimate of future expenditure requirements made up of historic costs, and what people would be willing to pay given a set amount of ‘cash’ at their disposal. It is used to contribute to the design of the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB). See also Minimum Expenditure Basket

The diagram above illustrates some of the key terminology used in cash transfer programming (CTP), and provides a visual structure to enable better understanding of how this all fits together. 

Download the glossary here (PDF)




Sources: Unless otherwise stated the definitions in this glossary are drawn from documentation produced by ACF, ICRC, CaLP, WFP, USAID, UNDP, OCHA, Oxfam, and Mercy Corps (ELAN)



Activation (prepaid card or SIM)




Assistance Modality


Bank Information Number (BIN)

Basic Needs

Biometric Authentication

Bulk Payment

Cash Based Assistance (CBA)

Cash Based Intervention (CBI)

Cash for Assets (CFA)

Cash for Training (CFT)

Cash for Work (CFW)

Cash Modality

Cash Plus

Cash Transfer

Cash Transfer Programming (CTP)

Cash and Voucher Programming (CVP)

Closed Loop

Commodity Voucher


Conditional Transfer

Cost-Benefit Analysis


Cost Effectiveness Analysis


Cost Efficiency Analysis

Critical Market Systems

Delivery Mechanism

Demand Elasticity (Elasticity of Demand)







Embedded Transaction

Enabling Environment

Financial Inclusion

Financial Service Provider (FSP)

Framework Agreement

Gap Analysis

Income Elasticity of Demand


Integrated Markets

Interconnected Markets

Know Your Customer (KYC)

Labour Market System

Labour Market Analysis

Load Volume

Magnetic Strip Card


Market Analysis

Market Based Programming


Marketplace Analysis

Market Chain

Market Map

Market Player

Market Services

Market System

Market Systems Analysis





Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB)

Mobile Money


Multiplier Effect

Multipurpose Cash Grant (MPG)/ Multipurpose Cash Assistance (MCA)

Nominal Prices

Personal Account Number (PAN)

Point of Service/Sales Device POS

Price Elasticity

Public Goods and Services

Public Works Programmes (or Workfare)

Purchasing Power

Private Sector

Propensity to Consume

Real Prices


Remittance Companies

Response Analysis (RA) or Response Analysis Framework (RAF)


Restricted Transfer

Retail Price

Safety Nets (SN) or Social Safety Nets

Safety Net System

Sector-Specific Intervention

Simplified Due Diligence (SDD)

Situation Analysis

Smart Card

Social Assistance/Social Assistance Transfers

Social Protection

Supply Elasticity


Unconditional Transfer

Unrestricted Transfer

Value Chain

Value for Money

Value Voucher


Village Savings and Loans


White Labeling

Wholesale Price

Willingness to Pay