Tips for Managing SNAP EBT Transactions With Your POS System
Few point-of-sale systems allow users to seamlessly process and/or track SNAP EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) transactions. Here are tips to help you incorporate EBT transactions into point-of-sale systems.
Options for processing EBT payments
Not all payment processors have the capacity to process EBT transactions. Widely used payment processors like Square, for example, are unable to manage EBT transactions. Even fewer processors can handle EBT Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) transactions — only two options exist at present for processing HIP transactions in Massachusetts:
- Conduent Direct Connect – a complete EBT-only terminal that requires a landline
- Mobile Market+ Select – a mobile EBT/credit/debit card reader which processes payments through WorldPay, typically on an iPad. For important updates on the status of Mobile Market+, see this page.
For more background on how to get approved to process EBT and HIP transactions with these systems in Massachusetts, see CISA’s how-to page here. If you are not a HIP retailer, you have more options. A list of payment processors equipped to handle EBT transactions — but generally not HIP transactions — is here. Note that farms rarely work directly with one of these payment processors — more often, farms contract with an outside merchant services provider. Many banks and credit unions, as well as a wide range of other companies, can set you up with merchant accounts to process non-HIP EBT transactions. Costs and terms vary widely among providers, so it is well worth shopping around. You may want to start by contacting local banks and credit unions that offer merchant services (Polish National Credit Union is one such option) and/or larger merchant service providers that offer wireless or mobile EBT terminals like Dharma, CDGcommerce, Payment Spring, Merchant Source, TSYS, Payment Depot, or others. One helpful source of merchant account reviews for larger providers is here.
Options for tracking EBT payments
Because HIP-approved retailers currently must use the Conduent or Mobile Market+ Select systems to process EBT, these are the most common system being used to process all EBT transactions on farms. Neither system has any advanced point-of-sale tracking capabilities — they simply record transaction dates and totals — and this limitation poses is a significant obstacle for farms looking to ring up and track all of their sales through one system. At present, most local farms do not record EBT sales in the same point-of-sale system where they track non-EBT sales as a result. This limits the precision and the utility of their point-of-sale reports, as well as other features like inventory management.
Point-of-sale systems that directly integrate with EBT processing
There are some (albeit limited) options for more advanced point-of-sale systems that can directly integrate non-HIP EBT transactions. For example, Clover (but not Clover Go or Clover Station), Mobile Market+ Register, Revel POS for Retail, and Cash Register Express all have at least some capacity to accept EBT payments.
- Clover’s EBT app enables EBT transactions on Clover Mini, Clover Flex, and Clover Mobile (but note that you cannot process EBT using Clover Go or Clover Station). Using this app, you can add “EBT” in the system as an accepted tender type and then track and process EBT transactions alongside other transactions. It is up to the user to confirm which products are EBT eligible.
- Mobile Market + Register is one relatively new point-of-sale system that is able to accommodate EBT payments and also has product management capabilities.
- Revel’s basic point-of-sale set-up does not work with a payment processor that can accommodate EBT payments. However, for an additional cost it is possible to use an outside payment processor that can accept EBT payments, and you can also easily designate which products are and aren’t EBT eligible. At present, this is generally only possible (and/or cost-effective) if you have more than one retail location; for more information you should discuss your personal situation with a sales representative.
- Cash Register Express has capacity to accept EBT transactions if paired with an EBT-ready payment processor. Be aware that this point-of-sale system has some serious limitations, however, including the fact that it is locally installed as opposed to cloud-based, it has high upfront costs, and some users have given it low reviews for user-friendliness, customer service, and reliability, among other things.
Key features for tracking EBT transactions
In the case of point-of-sale systems that cannot directly integrate with EBT transactions (or HIP transactions, if needed), some are still much better than others with regard to how easily they can track EBT sales that you process externally. The two main considerations in this regard are:
- How easy is it to add “EBT” as a custom payment form and pull reports that separate out EBT transactions?
- How easy it is to tag or categorize items as to their EBT and/or HIP eligibility?
Several point-of-sale systems have flexibility to enter custom payment forms, but we have not yet identified any with capacity to tag items as to EBT or HIP eligibility (other than the integrated systems mentioned above). Because point-of-sale system features are constantly changing, we recommend you ask about this feature.
Another point-of-sale feature that is important for streamlined EBT tracking is the capacity to easily handle “split tender” payments. A “split tender” payment involves multiple forms of payment, such as when part of a sale is paid externally with EBT and the rest of the payment is handled internally via a credit card swipe. In our experience, most point-of-sale systems have adequate split tender capabilities, but it is worth checking to confirm that this is true.
Workarounds for tracking EBT transactions
Here are some examples of workarounds farms use with various popular point-of-sale systems to ensure that EBT transactions are not left out of their point-of-sale reporting:
- Square – Square is quite limited in its ability to track EBT (or any other) payments that are processed outside of Square. Indeed, because Square’s fee structure is based entirely on transaction fees, it is not surprising that the point-of-sale interface discourages using external payment processors. To enter EBT transactions in Square for reporting purposes, you may designate them as “other tender payments” and then add “EBT” in the notes field — though this is not perfect from a reporting perspective.
- Shopkeep – Shopkeep is relatively well-equipped to track EBT transactions. Users can designate “EBT” (and other payments) as an “external tender” type, so as to be able to ring them up in Shopkeep and then process them separately (see more info here).
- QuickBooks – QuickBooks is limited in its ability to track custom tender types. If you do not accept gift certificates or Discover cards, you can label all EBT card swipes as “gift certificates” or “Discover” card transactions (or any other credit card type that you do not accept). Otherwise, your only option — though it is less perfect from a reporting perspective — is to designate EBT cards as “check” transactions, and note “EBT” in the check number field.
- NCR Silver – NCR Silver is relatively well-equipped to track EBT transactions. Users can enter “EBT” (and other payment forms) as a “custom tender” type. EBT sales can then be rung up in NCR Silver and processed separately.
- Bindo – Bindo is relatively well-equipped to track EBT transactions. Users can enter “EBT” (and other payment forms) as an “other tender” type. EBT sales can then be rung up in Bindo and processed separately.