In the latest episode of the Power of Prepaid Podcast, the NBPCA talks with Kurt Helwig, president and CEO of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association (EFTA), and Amy Duncan, the director of project management at CDP, Inc. and the chair of the EFTA’s egovernment payments council. We discuss how prepaid is used to implement Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) to make it easier and less expensive for governments to distribute benefits.
EBT is used for a number of programs, but the largest by dollar volume is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. It provides funds to low-income individuals and families to use for food purchases and is restricted to prevent the funds for being used on other types of goods. EBT is used in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. EBT has been implemented in all States since June of 2004.
The USDA has been working to expand acceptance of EBT at farmers’ markets around the country as a way of promoting healthy eating and local agriculture. States also are promoting its use. Maine recently passed a law to encourage SNAP benefits recipients to shop at farmers’ markets. The law calls for farmers’ markets to get equipment for accepting electronic benefits and for recipients of benefits to be educated about the benefits of shopping at farmers’ markets
In the episode, we also talk about the Women, Infants, and Children program, which provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. Recipients receive prescriptions for supplemental food and are provided with a benefits card that is filtered to only allow the funds on the card to be spent in accordance with the rules of the program.
If you want to learn more about the EFTA, you can visit their Web site at: https://efta.org/
To learn more about the size and segments of the government benefits market, please see the Federal Reserve’s Report to Congress on Government-Administered, General Use Prepaid Cards (August 2018).
To see what companies operate EBT programs in the various states, you can visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service EBT Highlights Site.
As the summer months come to an end, students and parents alike are turning their focus toward back-to-school shopping and preparation. For students entering high school, incoming college freshman, and young professionals living on their own for the first time, prepaid cards can be a helpful tool to promote financial responsibility while teaching valuable budgeting skills critical to future success.
As our economy continues to digitize, students increasingly need new ways to interact with the online marketplace. Prepaid cards and innovative payments solutions offer a safe way for students and young adults to take advantage of everything this new economy has to offer. Unlike other kinds of accounts, prepaid cards do not require a credit check, allowing young people without long financial histories to leverage their money. No wonder approximately 45 percent of millennials own a general purpose reloadable prepaid card.
As high school and college students transition to adulthood, learning financial literacy skills early on can make a world of difference. Prepaid cards allow students to learn the budgeting techniques they need to thrive. Simple text balance alerts and a transparent menu of fees give students the tools to easily track their expenses. Additionally, many prepaid cards come FDIC insured and are protected by zero-liability policies, enabling students and young adults to spend safely and responsibly.
Parents can also keep an eye out on spending habits and load cards online, making prepaid a quick and convenient choice for students away from home. And, without a risk of overdraft, students and parents do not need to worry about falling down the rabbit-hole of debt that can come with traditional credit cards.
Prepaid cards are a valuable tool in your back-to-school arsenal. Learn more with our infographic.
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