What is EBT or SNAP processing?

EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) is otherwise known as SNAP, or more commonly, food stamp acceptance.

Signing up for SNAP

The government-funded SNAP program is built to help low-income families get access to government funding to purchase food. Once a consumer signs up for SNAP benefits through the government, they’ll be issued an EBT card that’s pre-loaded with funds that they can spend on food and other services. In order to use their EBT card to pay for goods, they have to use it with retailers who have been approved by the government to accept SNAP transactions. EBT cards don’t automatically work everywhere, but instead are designed to only process with approved retailers. So, if you sell food and want to be able to accept SNAP cards from your customers, you need to register with the government first! Once registered, you’ll be provided with a 7-digit SNAP number. This is sometimes referred to as an “FNS” number. Your FNS number is your unique account with the government that allows you to take EBT funds for goods/services.

So… how do you sign up? You’ll need to register with the US Government to apply for an FNS number. This process can take up to a few months to complete, so please ensure you start the process early. Click here to view the SNAP requirements and start the application process for an FNS number.

EBT Hardware Requirements

So, you’ve signed up for SNAP with the government, and you’ve been assigned an FNS number. Now what? In order to actually accept EBT sales, you’ll need to ensure that your account is setup to accept PIN-debit. (Learn more about PIN debit here). EBT transactions work in the same way that a PIN debit sale works, by authorizing the sale after a customer inputs their PIN number. Without a dedicated PIN-pad, your customers can’t enter their PIN – and therefore, can’t use their EBT card! So, it’s important that you ensure you have a dedicated PIN-pad if you need to accept EBT sales.

If you purchase a new terminal through Dharma, you are all set to accept EBT sales, from an equipment perspective. All new terminals that Dharma sells will have an internal PIN-pad for accepting EBT sales as well as PIN-debit transactions.

If you have an existing terminal that you use to accept EBT sales, you may not be able to use that terminal with Dharma. Terminals will need to be physically encrypted with Dharma’s security keys. When selling a new terminal, we can do that automatically. But if you bring a terminal to Dharma, we are unable to change those encryption keys, and therefore the terminal cannot be used for PIN Debit and EBT sales. As such, when switching your processing to Dharma it may make sense to take this as an opportunity to purchase new hardware.

How do I setup EBT with Dharma?

Once you have your SNAP (FNS) number from the federal government, it’s easy! You’ll need to share that number with Dharma, and we’ll ensure your account is setup properly.

New Merchants will have the opportunity to request EBT acceptance and to input their FNS number when filling out Dharma’s Getting Started form. Please note that Dharma does not offer standalone EBT accounts, they must be part of credit/debit card processing.

Existing Merchants can open up a support ticket by clicking here, and a Dharma Support representative will assist you in ensuring your account is properly setup for EBT acceptance.

Still have questions? Give us a ring, at 866-615-5157.

What are the costs of EBT acceptance?

This is an easy answer – Dharma simply charges $0.10/EBT sale. Since EBT is provided by the Federal government, there are no underlying interchange fees, card association fees, or anything else of that nature. An EBT sale will only cost your organization ten cents, every time, under all circumstances.

However, because Dharma only offers EBT as part of a standard merchant account, there are other account fees, including our standard monthly service fee of $15.00.