OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) is one of only five states recently selected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to test mobile contactless payments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

In the coming years, this new technology will allow SNAP customers in the state to pay for their groceries by tapping or scanning their mobile device at checkout.

Other states selected include Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Missouri.

“Today’s announcement represents another step forward for the future of SNAP and the many ways our programs are embracing modern and innovative ideas to improve nutrition security,” said Stacy Dean, USDA deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “Digital wallets are changing the way we pay for everything, including groceries. We want to ensure SNAP leverages the latest technology to improve access to benefits, reduce fraud, and provide a better overall experience for the families we serve.”

Officials say mobile payments are not only convenient for customers, they also provide a safer, more secure means of payment, reducing the risks for skimming and other fraud schemes.

“Oklahoma is excited to be a pilot state in the effort to create a quicker, more efficient and secure way of providing SNAP benefits to our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Tom Pennington, OKDHS financial administrator. “This effort not only reduces the risk of fraud by protecting customer’s accounts through multi-level authentication, it also reduces the stigma associated with SNAP benefits and promotes dignity for our customers while they are trying to put food on the table for their families. We are proud to dedicate the resources and staff required for this pilot to continually modernize our programs and find ways to better serve our customers.”

FNS is providing technical assistance and coordination efforts to states and stakeholders as they initiate mobile payment pilot projects.

Oklahoma retailers and SNAP customers may voluntarily participate in the pilot, or they may continue to use EBT card payments, if preferred.

Oklahoma Human Services is proud to participate in the mobile payment pilot as part of FNS’ continued SNAP modernization efforts.

Other efforts include the expansion of SNAP online shopping into many of Oklahoma’s major grocery outlets, including rural areas, and new EBT card technologies and safeguards.