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Abstract

Several states have developed electronic benefit transfer (EBT) systems to deliver cash assistance and food stamp benefits. These systems establish electronic account balances which recipients access through the use of a debit card at terminals such as bank automatic teller machines or transaction authorization machines like those that validate credit card charges. We examine the potential effects of such systems on involved stakeholders, including government agencies, benefit recipients, financial institutions, and food retailers. Overall, each stakeholder group benefits from EBT, but some subgroups do not fare as well. Several key issues are identified.

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