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Glossary of Terms

First published in 2011, the CALP Glossary is designed to facilitate a common understanding and harmonized use of terms and definitions for cash and voucher assistance (CVA). 

It should be noted that these definitions apply to the use of CVA in humanitarian programming and may not reflect how some terms are understood in other contexts or by other audiences. 

The glossary, last updated in 2023, is available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish in both an online and PDF format. 

It is also available in German and Portuguese but in a PDF format only. 


Showing 5 of 182 Glossary terms

Bank Information Number (BIN)

The first four to six digits on a payment card (credit, debit, pre-paid, etc.) that identifies the financial institution that issued and is responsible for the card. The BIN number (also called issuer identification number (INN)) is essential in enabling faster payment processing. It allows merchants to accept multiple forms of payment and plays a role in preventing fraud.

[Adapted from Investopedia]

Basic Needs/Essential Needs (key term)

The concept of basic or essential needs refers to the essential goods, utilities, services, and/or resources required on a regular or seasonal basis by households to ensure their long-term survival AND minimum living standards, without resorting to negative coping mechanisms or compromising their health, dignity, and essential livelihood assets. However, there is no global definition of the precise range and categories of need that constitute basic needs, which will depend on the context and what people themselves consider the most important aspects to ensure their survival and wellbeing. Assistance to address basic needs can be delivered through a range of modalities (including cash transfers, vouchers, in-kind and services ), and might include both multi-purpose cash assistance (MPC) and sector-specific interventions. MPC is sometimes misused interchangeably with the concept of basic needs.

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication denotes technologies that measure and analyze human physical and/or behavioural characteristics for authentication purposes e.g., fingerprint, voice print, and iris recognition.


A blockchain is a type of decentralized database (also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT)) that records transactions shared across a network of multiple participants. Every time a new transaction occurs on the blockchain, a record of that transaction is added to every participant’s ledger. Information on the blockchain is distributed, transparent and traceable. Distributed networks eliminate the need for a central authority to keep a check against manipulation. What is stored on a blockchain can be any token of value or shared data value, and it can mean anything from monetary payments to intellectual property to personal data. The blockchain is the underlying technology supporting most cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Potential applications of blockchain technology in CVA could, for example, relate to payments, recipient data, data sharing, identification, and funding.

[Adapted from Digital Humanitarian Network (2016)

Bulk Payment

A simultaneous transfer of funds from an entity to many recipients. This term is often used to describe the mobile money services used for humanitarian programmes (as opposed to person-to-business or person-to-person payments).