Hawaii Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Program
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT):
The Hawaii Electronic Benefit Transfer (HI/EBT) system processes the payments for public financial assistance (i.e. childcare), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The EBT system utilizes a debit card which allows the clients to access their cash and/or SNAP benefits at food retailers through their Point of Sale (POS) machines and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Recipients receiving cash assistance may also choose to have their cash benefits directly deposited into their personal bank accounts.
Payments distributed through this system are: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Temporary Assistance for Other Needy Families (TAONF), General Assistance (GA), Aid to the Aged, Blind or Disabled (AABD), Repatriates, Childcare, Employment and Training (E & T), First-To-Work (FTW) and the SNAP programs.
Western States EBT Alliance (WSEA) and EBT Contractor:
Hawaii is one of 10 western states forming the WSEA consortium. Together with Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, Wyoming, Nebraska, and the territory of Guam, Hawaii remains a member to discuss on-going operations and for reprocurement of contracts. Although the Request for Proposal (RFP) is combined for the WSEA contract, each state enters into a contract separately with the EBT contractor.
Hawaii’s initial contract with Citicorp Electronic Financial Services, Inc. (CEFS) began in July 1997 and expired on June 30, 2003. The WSEA issued a second RFP for the EBT II contract in December 2001. In May 2002, CEFS was again selected as the winning EBT contractor. Hawaii Department of Human Services (HDHS) finalized its EBT contract with CEFS in May 2003 for a 7-year period; to run from July 1, 2003 until June 30, 2010.
In the latter half of 2003, J. P. Morgan Chase negotiated with Citigroup to purchase the Citicorp Electronic Financial Services, Inc. The purchase became effective on January 16, 2004. There was no change in services to the Department’s EBT system or operations with the buyout.
The WSEA again went out with an RFP to procure services for EBT III contract. J. P. Morgan Chase was the winning bidder and Hawaii has again contracted with J. P. Morgan Chase, EFS to process the payments for public assistance. This contract will expire on June 30, 2017 with 2 one-year extension options.
Benefit Availability Dates:
Monthly benefits are available to eligible households based on the first letter of the clients’ last name. Clients whose last names begin with the letters A-I are available on the 3rd calendar day of each month, while clients with last names beginning with the letters J-Z are available on the 5th calendar day. Households receiving their cash benefits directed to their personal account will have their cash benefits available on the 3rd banking day of each month. The SNAP benefits for these households are available on the 1st calendar day of each month.
Automated Response (ARU) and Recipients’ Customer Service:
Recipients who receive benefits via the EBT system are able to contact the J. P. Morgan customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to inquire about their account balance, to report lost, stolen or damaged cards, to change their PIN, or if they have any questions or problems with their EBT account. The toll-free number is: 1-888-328-4292. (The TTY number is 1-800-855-2880.)
The EBT account information can also be accessed via the Internet at www.ebtaccount.jpmorgan.com.
Retailer Participation in the EBT program:
Hawaii retailers wishing to participate in the EBT system must first be certified to accept SNAP benefits by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. For a USDA/FNS retailer application, call 1-877-823-4369. If the retailer is approved to accept SNAP benefits, the USDA/FNS will automatically notify the State’s EBT contractor of the retailers’ approval. The EBT contractor will mail an EBT Retailer Application packet to the retailer to complete. In order to conduct EBT transactions, the retailer is responsible to return the completed EBT application.