Cash transfers became a subject of international policy transfer, but the underlying policy process is far more complex than simple policy diffusion. In order to understand the development of cash transfers in Indonesia, it is necessary to examine the long-term policy evolution in the context of national politics. This paper analyses the policy evolution of cash transfers in Indonesia, focusing on the policy decision process at the national level since the Asian economic crisis. It tracks three critical conjunctures of social protection for the poor in which Indonesia tried to adapt cash transfer schemes and institutional frameworks, and eventually consolidated the social protection system. Cash transfers have been adapted in Indonesia in keeping with the strong political motivations of top policymakers for popular support in the context of democratisation, but policy transfers of cash transfers provided an important impetus for the development of social protection system in Indonesia.