The 2020 global pandemic catalyzed great interest in the potential of social protection to support incomes and livelihoods during times of crisis, with cash transfers getting particular attention. Also during this period, the debate around basic incomes, universal basic income (UBI) and other types of cash transfers gained traction. Progressive policy makers, workers’ movements and civil society organizations around the world saw a window of opportunity to demand more extensive income security programmes from minimum incomes to basic incomes to universal basic incomes. But what do all of these terms really mean? And what is the difference between them? In this brief we provide an explanation of the different terms in use, and then present three short snapshots of how and where policy discussions are happening in the Global South. We look at programmes and debates in Mexico City, South Africa and Brazil.