Overview

Learn how to accept EBT payments online with Forage

Forage simplifies both application development and regulatory compliance for processing EBT transactions online. You can use Forage software to update your website or app to accept EBT as a form of payment. Forage’s team of experts shares knowledge, checklists, and templates as you navigate the FNS authorization process, helping you launch faster.

Phases of a Forage partnership

Forage supports you at each of the following phases of building, launching and scaling online EBT payments:

  1. Apply for FNS authorization
  2. Integrate Forage
  3. Implement FNS development requirements
  4. Prepare Sandbox demo
  5. Complete FNS testing
  6. Launch and grow your EBT business

Before you start the process, make sure that you meet the prerequisites for working with Forage.

Phase 1: Apply for FNS authorization

The USDA FNS needs to approve every merchant that accepts government-sponsored EBT SNAP benefits as a payment method. Forage’s regulatory experts work with you to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI), a Business Review Document (BRD), and any other documents that FNS requests. You can complete these materials and develop the web application, phases two and three below, at the same time.

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If you’re selling groceries through an ecommerce platform, then there’s a chance that FNS has already approved the platform. Reach out to the platform to confirm if you can skip to Phase 5: Complete FNS testing.

If you’ve already received FNS authorization to accept online EBT SNAP payments and want to add or switch to Forage processing, then at this phase all you need to do is send an email to FNS stating your intention to integrate Forage. Forage works with you to confirm and complete any additional requirements from FNS. Then you can skip to Phase 5: Complete FNS testing.

Phase 2: Integrate Forage

Explore the Get started with Forage guide to pick the Forage integration option that’s right for you. Forage offers developer quickstart guides for each integration type and reference docs to help you build.

Phase 3: Implement FNS development requirements

FNS requires all apps and websites that accept EBT SNAP as a form of payment to meet a set of customer experience standards. Consult Forage guides and work with the team to ensure that your app or website meets these regulatory standards.

Phase 4: Prepare Sandbox demo

After the LOI and BRD have been approved, merchants need to demo their EBT SNAP checkout flow in a sandbox environment during a real-time meeting. FNS provides up to ten scenarios that the demo must complete. Scenarios vary depending on your EBT SNAP implementation. In addition to attending the meeting, Forage partners with you to prepare for the demo.

Phase 5: Complete FNS testing

FNS requires production testing after a successful sandbox demo. The test scripts span forty different checkout scenarios that vary depending on your EBT SNAP implementation. Forage runs the test scripts with you, documents a changelog, and updates FNS on every round of testing.

Phase 6: Launch and grow your EBT SNAP business

After you receive FNS authorization and launch EBT SNAP as an online payment method, Forage partners with you to create a go-to-market strategy combining your goals and EBT SNAP best practices. You can also use Forage’s dashboard and APIs to monitor your growth.

Prerequisites

Before you start the Forage process, confirm the following:

  • Either:
  • You’re able to update your website or app to meet key technical requirements for online EBT.
  • You’re able to track item eligibility in your own database. At this time, Forage does not automate identifying which items in your inventory are EBT SNAP eligible.

Next steps