California Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Project

About EBT

  • EBT is the automation of government benefit delivery through the use of on-line electronic funds transfer technology (i.e. magnetic stripe debit cards).
  • EBT is already in place in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
  • In California all Food Stamp Program benefits will be delivered via EBT.
  • 37 Counties will use EBT for cash benefits: CalWORKs (TANF) and/or General Assistance (GA/GR).

California Timeline

  • Pilot Implementation in Alameda County and Yolo County: July 2002
  • State Rollout November 2002-April 2004

California EBT Partners

  • California Health and Human Services Data Center (HHSDC) is the Project Manager.
  • California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is the Project Sponsor.
  • Citicorp Electronic Financial Services is the issuing financial institution. They will provide all services and information necessary for acquiring financial institutions to participate. Citicorp EFS is under contract to HHSDC, the project manager.

CalWORKs Participants

Statistics for the three-year period from January 1998 to December 2000 reveal that:

  • 21% of aided adults received CalWORKs for 12 months or less before transitioning off of assistance.
  • 70% transition into employment within 36 months, of these, over 80% have remained off aid (and presumably maintained their employment) after 12 months have elapsed.
  • The average age of an adult CalWORKs participant is 34 years.
  • 42% of the adults have more than 12 years of education.
  • 36% of the adults are Hispanic, 30% are Caucasian, 19% are African-American, 14% are Asian, and 1% are Native American.

Banking and Direct Deposit

  • A very rough estimate is that 25-30% of CalWORKs participants currently have banking relationships.
  • California law mandates that those counties offering payroll direct deposit to employees must offer the same option to cash benefit recipients. In San Diego County, approximately 20% of CalWORKs clients utilize direct deposit.

Transaction Volume

  • Average monthly CalWORKs projected caseload: ~488,000
  • Average monthly GA projected caseload: ~75,000
  • Average projected monthly CalWORKs grant FY 2001/02: $531.38
  • Approximately $3.3 billion will be distributed to CalWORKs recipients in FY 2001/02.
  • Estimated 2.3 cash withdrawal transactions per case per month, based upon cash transactions in other states currently operating an EBT system: ~1.1 million transactions per month.
  • CEFS will pay STAR on-premises interchange fee for each cash withdrawal transaction. CEFS will also pay standard interchange for denied transactions and balance inquiry transactions.

Benefits of Participation

  • Counties will choose to use EBT or not based partially on whether there is “reasonable access.” The better the access, the more likely counties will participate.
  • Counties using EBT will no longer issue monthly warrants, thus reducing teller lines at branch offices.
  • Ability to reach and establish brand loyalty with future customers that may be seeking a banking relationship as they move off aid.
  • Card usage will increase at ATMs and the bank will receive $0.45 interchange fee for each cash withdrawal.
  • Recognition of your bank’s support of the EBT program by state and local government agencies.
  • Positive publicity for waiving surcharges for this group of Californians may reduce negative public perception about surcharges in general.
  • Supporting the EBT program in underdeveloped urban communities will be positively viewed under the Community Reinvestment Act services test. (Federal Register #54647, FFIEC Interagency Q&A, October 21, 1996).

Citicorp Contact for EBT Participation

Mr. Curtis Fish
Citicorp EFS
155 Cadillac Drive
Sacramento, CA 95825
916-567-5003 or

California Counties using EBT for Cash Benefit Delivery

A total of 36 counties have decided to use the EBT card for cash benefits, either CalWORKS, GA/GR, or both. Los Angeles County’s decision is pending approval of the Board of Supervisors.

County CalWorks GA/GR CalWORKs
1. Alameda X X 25,440 4,167
2. Butte X 5,420
3. Calaveras X 607
4. Contra Costa X X 11,744 942
5. Del Norte X 903
6. Imperial X 5,016
7. Kern X 19,083
8. Lassen X 687
9. Los Angeles ? ? 234,000 60,391
10. Marin X X 1,015 212
11. Mariposa X 252
12. Mendocino X 1,993
13. Merced X 7,243
14. Monterey X 5,550
15. Napa X 735
16. Nevada X 695
17. Orange X X 23,170 632
18. Placer X X 1,747 377
19. Riverside X 25,227
20. Sacramento X X 36,345 5,034
21 San Benito X 590
22.. San Luis Obispo X 2,203
23. San Mateo X 2,641
24. Santa Barbara X X 4,309 503
25. Santa Clara X X 15,393 1,889
26. Santa Cruz X 2,329
27.. Shasta X 4,674
28. Siskiyou X 1,057
29. Solano X X 6,492 252
30. Sonoma X 3,558
31. Stanislaus X 10,567
32. Sutter X 1,464
33. Tulare X 13,025
34. Tuolumne X 900
35. Ventura X 6,631
36. Yolo X 2,932
37. Yuba X 2,334
TOTAL 487,971 74,399

These 19 counties have opted not to use the EBT card for cash benefits at this time:

Alpine, Amador, Colusa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humbolt, Inyo, Kings, Lake, Madera, Modoc, Mono, Plumas, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Sierra, Tehama, and Trinity

These two counties are currently running a separate EBT system for Food Stamp benefits, and do not issue cash benefits via EBT. They will join the statewide program at a later date.

San Bernardino, San Diego

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Last updated: Aug 28, 2019 @ 4:21 pm