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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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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: