Retailers and customers are hanging between credit card processing and ebt. The merchant services offer both EBT and credit card processing services.

What is EBT?

EBT refers to Electronic Benefits Transfer. It is a system that government uses to give benefits to the households having a low income. An EBT card is transferred as a direct deposit into the bank account, like any check card.

The authorized businesses can accept EBT cards to purchase food and relating commodities approved by the government. The advantage is that the authorized retailer can accept the EBT payments from the customers as they accept the credit or debit card payments. As such, you can find no difference in the total purchase amount for the merchant. It transfers into his bank like other electronic payments. 

How to Accept EBT

Businesses will accept EBT if their registration is with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The requirement for a retailer or a business is to register first with SNAP. On registering, you get a SNAP ID number as 7-digit. It is also known as the FNS number. It is similar to the credit or debit card PIN or CVV number. The FNS is the SNAP official identification number that is registered with the government. On having the FNS number, you may start accepting the payments of EBT cards.

EBT Hardware

Signing for a SNAP with the government means you can accept the EBT payments. However, you must know what you need? To accept the EBT payments and get them working as a PIN debit or accept the PIN debit, you must have the hardware. Your debit or credit card requires a PIN to enter and to see the transaction complete. The same goes with the EBT acceptance. There is a PIN programmed terminal and a PIN pad required.

Activating a PIN debit is essential. If you are unable to accept the PIN debit, call the merchant services account. They will activate the current processor. However, if you receive the terminal from the best merchant services, they will ensure the activation of PIN debit while delivering the hardware to you.  Activating the EBT payments or receiving the FNS number, you may call the merchant services, and they will ensure your account accepts EBT in 48 hours.

If there is already a terminal from some other source, it may not work with EBT. Each processor comes with special programming. There are terminals offered for free, such that there are no contracts or leases. Registering with SNAP ensures receiving the FNS number, and you can activate it. New customers must sign up for a merchant services account.  There is a need to fill a form and complete the process to get started. 

Accepting EBT Cost

The EBT transaction cost is $0.10 for each transaction. It is low, and there are no card association fees or interchanges fees. The price is low because it is a making of a government program. It is the least expensive so that it is easy to accept for businesses. 

Initially, EBT systems were not affordable in comparison to the conventional issuance of food stamp systems. In 1993, EBT reached a milestone, and on evaluating in Minnesota and New Mexico, they revealed that the cost is less in comparison to the paper coupons cost. Thus, the EBT costs were reduced for the recipients, retailers and financial institutions. The expenses of EBT/EFT will decrease with the wide use of the technology. When more and more states start implementing this system, there will be a cost-neutral operation. It will bring the EBT systems cost less to operate than any other paper coupon system.

All states are ready to use and have started using EBT for the issuance of food stamps and in some for other programs such as TANF and WIC programs. The Health and Human departments also use them. More than 50 states, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Guam are already operating the EBT system city-wide, state-wide, and territory-wide to issue the benefits of food stamps. 

The USDA is working continuously with the state to promote EBT acceptance. It is assuring the stores to enter into signing for SNAP and accept EBT systems. The merchant services also ensure the EBT data is working efficiently and is secure from potential abuse. The benefit of the EBT is that it is through the government program, and so the equipment comes at zero cost.