USDA Selects 5 States to Test Mobile Contactless Payments in SNAP

“We want to ensure SNAP leverages the latest technology to improve access to benefits,” the agency said.

March 10, 2023

WASHINGTON—The USDA Food and Nutrition Service announced that it is partnering with five states to test mobile payment technology in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. In the next few years, SNAP participants in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oklahoma will have the option to use mobile payment methods, like tapping or scanning their personal mobile device, as an alternative to their physical SNAP card.

The technology makes it easier for busy families to put healthy food on the table and also has the potential to help protect families from having their SNAP benefits stolen because of card skimming and other fraud.

“Today’s announcement represents another step forward for the future of SNAP and the many ways our programs are embracing modern and innovative ideas to improve nutrition security,” said Stacy Dean, USDA deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. “Digital wallets are changing the way we pay for everything, including groceries. We want to ensure SNAP leverages the latest technology to improve access to benefits, reduce fraud and provide a better overall experience for the families we serve.”

The Mobile Payment Pilots are complex projects involving a wide range of stakeholders carefully coordinating efforts. FNS will work with state agencies as well as EBT processors, mobile wallet providers, retailers and more to support a successful rollout in the pilot states. Neither retailers nor SNAP households are required to participate in the pilots—stores can decide whether to adopt the new technology and make contactless payments available to their SNAP customers, and shoppers can continue to use their EBT card if that’s how they prefer to pay.

“We are thrilled to be chosen to participate in the SNAP Mobile Payment Pilot,” said Terri Ricks, Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services Secretary. “Over the past few years, we’ve focused on ways of using technology to make SNAP applications and purchases easier for the families we serve, including through text messaging reminders, a mobile app for managing benefits, online SNAP purchasing and even a virtual D-SNAP process following disasters. The goal of the Mobile Payment Pilot is to build on these efforts by making purchases more convenient and reducing the time involved in receiving access to benefits.”

Other SNAP modernization efforts include expanding SNAP online shopping, partnering with the National Grocers Association Foundation to help small and/or rural retailers get started with SNAP online shopping and exploring EBT card technology and safeguards.

Discover how NACS is advocating for SNAP recipients to have wider access to food sold at convenience retailers.