Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)
What is an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Program?
EBT or Electronic Benefit Transfer is an electronic method to disperse government benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), using debit card technology and retail Point-Of-Sale (POS) terminals.
As a retailer, am I approved to participate in EBT?
All retailers who have previously been approved by the USDA to accept paper coupons in their store are automatically approved to participate in the EBT program. Other retailers, who have not been approved by the USDA to accept SNAP benefits and would like to apply, should call 1-877-823-4369 for an application. Visit USDA FNS (Food and Nutrition Service) at www.fns.usda.gov for information.
How do I get equipment to accept EBT?
There are three ways a retailer can participate in the EBT program. Once a retailer has been approved to accept EBT, a retail specialist from Xerox, the primary contractor for the EBT, will contact the retailer. The options are:
- State Issued POS Device - New retailers automatically qualify for equipment, if they meet the critiques of FNS, to accept EBT in their store. This equipment is free of cost, but is limited in options for the EBT client. The state-issued machine will only accept the SNAP benefits that have been placed on the EBT card. A client would not be able to purchase or withdraw using their TANF cash benefits at a retail store that uses the State issue devise. This equipment is issued to the retailer under agreement with Xerox. If at any time the equipment is lost or stolen, the retailer will be responsible for repaying Xerox. The retailer may keep the equipment as long as
- Manual Vouchers - Manual vouchers are used by retailers who do not have POS equipment. A retailer with lower than the minimum average may use these manual vouchers to accept EBT. A manual voucher is approved through an automated system, and the retailer is given an authorization number for the transaction.
- EBT Through Third Party Processors (TPP) - A TPP is a commercial processor who processes all credit and debit cards along with EBT. A retailer who uses a TPP will be able to access all of the EBT benefits. Clients will be able to use their SNAP benefits in a retail store that uses a TPP.
I want to take all the benefits of EBT, but there is cost involved in using the TPP, what should I do?
It is true that the TPP processors do charge small fees to process EBT as with any other credit or debit cards. In this case, retailers must make the best business decision for their company. In most cases, retailers that have total EBT access, have larger average sales. This is because they are offering their customer every benefit: in turn, the retailer creates a market for their store as being a full EBT provider.
Once I am approved to accept EBT, what do I do?
Once Xerox receives the retailer authorization number issued by the USDA, a retail specialist from Xerox will contact the retailer and instruct them on accepting EBT. If a retailer chooses to use the state issued equipment, the retailer will be sent a package containing a retail and equipment agreement and an ACH form authorizing Xerox to deposit money into the retailer's bank account. A voided check from the retailer's account must be included with the ACH form. Once this paper work is completed, the Xerox retail specialist will see that the POS hardware is delivered.
Retailers who choose to use a TPP processor, will also be contacted by Xerox. At this time, the Xerox employee will need to know information concerning the TPP processor that the retailer has chosen. The retailer may begin using their TPP equipment to accept EBT immediately after the USDA approval.
Who will be issued an EBT card?
Each Mississippi SNAP benefit household will be issued an EBT card.
How will a customer know his/her account balance?
A customer can find out their balance at any time using any of the following options:
- Calling the Cardholder Services Center number printed on the back of their EBT card
- Performing a "balance-inquiry-only" transaction on the POS terminal installed at the food store
- Reviewing the last EBT transaction receipt. The customer's current account balance will be printed on the bottom of each EBT receipt
What happens if a customer does not have sufficient funds to cover the purchase? If the customer does not have enough benefits remaining in his/her account to cover the purchase, the transaction will be denied, and the receipt will display "Denied-Insufficient Balance". They may pay the difference between the purchase amount and the available balance in cash, the original purchase may be reduced to an amount less than or equal to the remaining balance in the SNAP account or the balance may be paid by conducting a TANF transaction with the Mississippi Debit Mastercard, if the client is eligible for TANF. Please note that in either case the transaction must be re-entered.
What retailers will be able to participate in the Mississippi EBT Program?
Any FNS authorized food retailer is eligible to participate in the Mississippi EBT Program.
Mississippi Department of Human Services
Cardholder Assistance: 1-866-512-5087
Retailer Assistance: 1-866-598-1772