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Are EBT sales the same as PIN-debit?

No, but they function similarly from the merchant's perspective.

EBT (or Electronic Benefit Transfer) transactions are also known as Food Stamps. These benefits are provided to low-income citizens by the federal government. As such, there are no interchange fees associated with EBT sales. The only fees merchants pay for EBT transactions are to their provider for the cost of the authorizations, typically only a few pennies per sale. That's it. So from a cost perspective, EBT transactions will naturally be much cheaper than PIN-debit sales! In addition, EBT sales can't be disputed - they're for food items only, and there is no chargeback  process like there is with credit/debit transactions.

Despite the above differences, EBT transactions will "feel" like PIN-debit sales to most merchants. The cardholder will pay in the exact same way - swipe their card, input their PIN, and be on their way. The merchant will get funded in the exact same way - funds will be deposited in their account a day or two later. Hardware requirements are exactly the same as PIN-debit. The merchant is required to have an encrypted PinPad (either internal to their terminal, or externally connected). It's very common to have high PIN-debit acceptance at food-vendors and grocery stores, which is also where EBT is typically accepted. They often go hand-in-hand.

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