Last year alone, around 7.3 million women, infants, and children benefited from WIC’s supplemental nutrition program, which means that a significant number of food purchases made in the U.S. are paid for with WIC paper vouchers. However, this paper voucher system is now undergoing an upgrade to a new electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system, also known as eWIC (electronic WIC). Here’s what merchants need to know about the upgrade to eWIC:
Why the Change?
The eWIC system will streamline the entire WIC purchasing process, to the benefit of merchants and WIC participants alike.
When customers use WIC paper vouchers, they need to separate out all WIC-eligible items, and the cashier has to determine that all items are WIC approved and can be bought with the specific voucher. Then, the customer has to sign the voucher, and the merchant stamps all vouchers and submits them to their state agency.
Clearly, this is a long process that can be frustrating and even embarrassing for customers, and it can take some time for merchant funding to arrive. With eWIC, though, participants can swipe their card at an eWIC-certified vendor for real-time approval, and funding is sent to the merchant in just 1 to 2 business days. Plus, eWIC users can manage their benefits from the WIC smartphone app. The eWIC system greatly reduces errors, improves the checkout experience for customers, and increases efficiency for merchants.
When’s the Deadline?
Since deadlines vary throughout the country, some states have completed the transition, while others are still upgrading. By October 1st, 2020, all authorized WIC vendors across the country will need to be upgraded to an eWIC processing solution.
As of April 30th of this year, New York state has begun it’s pilot stage, and by April of 2019, all New York state authorized vendors will need to be upgraded to eWIC.
To see a map of eWIC deadlines for different regions, please click here.
What Do Merchants Need to Do?
Fidelity’s Cardknox gateway is one of the first solutions to integrate eWIC, which means we can work with your software vendor to enable eWIC processing from the same terminal that you use for credit card, debit, and legacy EBT purchases. Cardknox is quick and easy to integrate, is compatible with a wide variety of terminals, and has built-in quick-chip EMV processing as well.
If your business is in a region with a close deadline and you don’t have enough time to integrate eWIC into your software, you should know that you also have the option to use an eWIC stand beside terminal, which WIC programs are providing free of charge to merchants in many states. Keep in mind that the stand beside terminal can only process eWIC transactions.
For more information on our Cardknox integrated eWIC solution, or if you have any other questions on eWIC, please visit www.cardknox.com/ewic.