EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. WIC EBT is an electronic process where the food benefits are automatically added onto a card, similar to a debit card. This card, which will be known as the e-WIC card, will replace the current paper-based delivery system. The Alabama WIC Program spent several years in the planning phase and made the decision to utilize an online e-WIC card.
Alabama WIC is now entering the implementation phase. The City of Montgomery has been selected as the pilot site. Following a three (3) month pilot we will begin statewide roll out. The pilot is estimated to begin February/March of 2018 with statewide roll out beginning at the end of the three (3) month pilot. e-WIC will be rolled out in phases by Public Health Areas.
As soon as the State selects an e-WIC Service Provider we will begin working closely with our authorized WIC vendors to ensure all vendors are ready for implementation.
During the e-WIC implementation phase, updates and further information about e-WIC will be posted on our website as it becomes available.
How will e-WIC Improve the Shopping Experience?
Smoother Transaction at the Register
- Store employees are no longer the “WIC Police.” WIC food items will be identified by the cash register system at the time of purchase.
- Each WIC approved item will be maintained in the Universal Product Code (UPC) database, providing stores with a more accurate description of WIC approved items. *Alabama WIC will maintain the UPC database with the assistance of our authorized WIC vendors. This database will be updated regularly to ensure all authorized WIC items are available for purchase.
- e-WIC will reduce the number of non-approved WIC items being purchased, because non-WIC items will be identified during scanning. Incorrect package size and/or quantity will not be allowed when using the e-WIC card.
*More information to come regarding the UPC collection process.
Automatic Electronic Claim Payments
- e-WIC eliminates paper WIC checks, reducing paperwork and streamlining back end processing. The store’s account will be credited within 24 to 48 hours for food benefits redeemed by participants. In addition, staff will no longer be responsible for applying the WIC vendor stamp because claims are submitted and paid electronically.\
Reduced Time "In Line"
- Participant authentication is managed through the use of a participant PIN, eliminating the need for the cashier to verify the signature on the check with the signature on the WIC ID folder.
- The WIC customer will no longer be required to separate individual family member’s WIC items during checkout.
United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Resources (USDA FNS) for e-WIC
USDA FNS provides two publications that govern WIC EBT processing standards for all entities involved. These are the Operating Rules Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and the WIC EBT Technical Implementation Guide (TIG). The guidelines establish a framework for consistent procedures and implementations by State agencies and their participating retail vendors.
The guidelines have been developed at the request and input of WIC State agencies, food retail vendors, EBT processors, third party processors, payment terminal device manufacturers and cash register software manufacturers.
The Operating Rules provide a framework for the initiation and continuing operation of a WIC EBT program. It lays groundwork to provide services consistently regardless of the Processor or location of the WIC vendor. It addresses the operation of WIC EBT for all entities, including: WIC Authorities, WIC Cardholders, retail system providers, WIC Vendors, Acquirers and the Processors for these entities.
The TIG consists of the specific implementation guidelines of the X9.93 standards for parties processing a specific subset of EBT Transactions. The TIG applies to retail merchants, POS system integrators, cash register vendors, POS terminal vendors, third party processors and EBT Card Issuer processors.
If you are an authorized Alabama WIC Vendor your cash register system/point-of-sale representative will be familiar with these documents. They will utilize these documents to integrate e-WIC into your existing system.
These documents are available online.