US Department of Agriculture to put state benefits on mobile phones in five states

person making contactless mobile payment via US Department of Agriculture SNAP program
DIGITAL PILOT: Citizens will receive benefits and be able to make NFC and QR code payments for eligible purchases on their mobile device

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to enable citizens entitled to financial support under its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oklahoma to receive benefits and make NFC or QR code payments for eligible purchases on their mobile device.

USDA is to pilot the service in partnership with agencies across the five states as an alternative to the existing physical SNAP payment card in order to allow SNAP recipients to pay for essential foodstuffs such as bread, fruit and vegetables at authorised merchants with their smartphone, tablet or smart watch instead.

“SNAP serves millions of low-income families and children each month. Mobile payments — widely considered a safe, secure and convenient way to shop for groceries — is one way we can help make it easier for busy families to put healthy food on the table,” USDA says.

“The technology 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,” USDA deputy undersecretary Stacy Dean adds.

“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.”

USDA announced in August 2022 that it was planning to trial NFC and QR code mobile payments for contactless state benefits under the SNAP program.

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