Process of establishing confidence that a person is who they claim to be. Digital authentication generally involves a person electronically presenting one or more “authentication factors” to “assert” their identity—that is, to prove that they are the same person to whom the identity or credential was originally issued.

Beneficiary, beneficiaries

Individuals, families, or households who are enrolled in a program who are recipients of a benefit or service.

Beneficiary registry

A database of beneficiaries of a social protection program. It is also a component of the beneficiary operations management system. These beneficiary registries contain information on program beneficiaries. Registries theat contain information on beneficiaries of multiple programs are known as integrated beneficiary registries.


Something tangible that is given by social protection programs to individuals, families, or households. They may be in the form of cash transfers or in-kind (such as food stamps, food rations, and subsidies). They may be noncontributory social assistance programs that are financed by general revenues, or they may be financed by direct contributions as a form of social insurance.

Biometrics or biometric data

Physiological or behavioural characteristics that are unique to an individual (e.g., fingerprints, voice patterns) and that can be used as a means of automatic verification of identity.

Biometric identification.

Process of searching against a biometric enrolment database to find and return the biometric reference identifier(s) attributable to a single individual. The comparison may be either a one-to-one (1:1) matching—commonly referred to as “biometric verification”—where comparison is done against a single template, or one-to-many (1:N) matching, where comparison is done against multiple templates.

Cash transfers.

Money distributed to individuals, families, or households. Cash transfers are direct, regular, and predictable noncontributory cash payments that help beneficiaries to raise and smooth incomes. The term encompasses a range of instruments (e.g., social pensions, child grants, public works programs, unconditional or conditional cash transfers, etc.) and a spectrum of design, implementation, and financing options.

Community-based targeting

A mechanism by which local communities are given discretion to determine which individuals, families, or households will be selected as beneficiaries of a particular program—or to determine which would be registered into a social registry for further assessment of their needs and conditions and eventual consideration for potential eligibility in social programs.


Grievances about the quality or type of processes for delivering benefits and/or services. They can arise due to delays, wait times, long lines, excessive documentation requirements, program staff behavior, public office accommodation, lack of information about the program decisions, difficulty accessing social protection benefits and/or services, and so on.

Compliance and noncompliance (of conditionalities).

Compliance refers to the carrying out of specific conditionalities or co-responsibilities required for participation in the program by beneficiaries. Noncompliance refers to the failure to carry out said conditionalities.

Conditional cash transfers (CCTs).

Social assistance programs that make receipt of benefits conditional upon beneficiary actions (such as school attendance or health care visits), typically with the objectives of reducing poverty and providing incentives for investing in human capital.

Conditionalities (aka “co-responsibilities”).

The set of obligations that each beneficiary household must comply with in order to continue receiving cash benefits. Common examples include school attendance, health visits, and labor/work efforts.


Digital Financial Service Provider.


A technique to detect duplicate identity records. Biometric data—including fingerprints and iris scans—are commonly used to de-duplicate identities in order to identify false or inconsistent identity claims and to establish uniqueness.


A state in which individuals, families, or households are entitled or qualified to receive a benefit or service because they satisfy certain criteria.

Eligibility criteria

Factors used to determine whether an individual, family, or household is eligible (inclusion criteria) or not eligible (exclusion criteria) to participate in a program.


A family is defined for operational purposes as “a group of two people or more related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together; all such people (including related subfamily members) are considered as members of one family.”

Geographic targeting mechanisms

A means of focusing interventions on individuals, families, or households living in a certain area.


Refers to two distinct categories: (1) complaints, and (2) appeals, and any other feedback from the general population, the intended population, registrants, applicants, beneficiaries, or other stakeholders of the social protection program.

Grievance redress mechanism (GRM)

A formalized way to accept, sort, assess, and resolve complaints, appeals, and queries from the program beneficiaries and other stakeholders. The GRM is composed of a set of institutional structures, mandated rules, procedures, and processes through which complaints, appeals, and queries about the social protection program(s) are resolved.


Any individual or group of individuals who are living as one economic unit, who buy food and make meals together.

Human-centered design

The continual process of understanding and meeting user needs. More specifically, human-centered design is a multidisciplinary approach to solving the needs and problems of the end-user (people) and the government’s capabilities for transformation.

Payment service provider

The public or private sector organization tasked with delivering the social protection program’s payments, such as a bank, post office, mobile network operator, nongovernmental organization, savings and credit cooperative organization, or microfinance institution.

Payments provision

Processes to transfer and deliver benefits to recipients.

Payments reconciliation

An accounting process that uses two sets of records to ensure figures are correct and in agreement. It confirms whether the money leaving an account matches the amount that has been spent and makes sure the two are balanced at the end of the recording period. For cash benefits, reconciliation confirms whether the funds transferred to the service provider match the amounts paid out to beneficiaries for that implementation cycle, and identifies any amounts not disbursed.


Registrants. Individuals, families, or households who have provided their information during the intake and registration phase of the delivery chain. They may have provided their information at their own initiative (on demand; see applicants) or at the initiative of a public agency or program (as in the case of en masse registration/census sweeps). In the latter case, we do not call them applicants because they did not technically “apply” for benefits and services.


The process of recording and verifying the information collected from the intake process. It can also involve pulling additional information from other administrative systems. Intake and registration usually happen simultaneously.

Social protection

Systems that help individuals, families, and households, especially the poor and vulnerable, cope with crises and shocks, find jobs, invest in the health and education of their children, and protect the aging population.

Social registry

Information systems that support the processes of outreach, intake and registration, and assessment of needs and conditions to determine potential eligibility for social programs. They maintain information on all registered households regardless of whether they eventually benefit from a social program. As such, we do not refer to households in social registries as “beneficiaries” but as “registered households.”


A policy that seeks to direct an intervention (benefit or service) to the intended population, to minimize the coverage of those not intended to be beneficiaries (errors of inclusion) and the non-coverage of intended beneficiaries (errors of exclusion). (We prefer to avoid using the term targeting in relation to an act of implementation.)

Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs)

Programs that provide cash transfer benefits to individuals, families, or households without imposing any conditions on the beneficiaries.
Note: Most definitions are coming from the World Bank Source Book:
Other resources: