Technology for markets and farmers: EMV (or chip and pin technology) for cards

This week is the deadline for all merchants to have new machines with chip and pin technology. RE-reposting to remind everyone to remind everyone to ask for updated machines.

(and here is some detailed background  info about credit cards and how the fees are designed that was posted on an electronic bulletin board site recently. Warning-VERY detailed!)

*This is a reposting to remind markets to check in with vendors and with your own credit card processor to ensure your readers are up to date. NOFA-VT leader Erin Buckwalter asked me about Square readers on a call today which reminded me to repost this information. And so yes, Square has an updated version as well, so make sure anyone using that or any other older card processing technology for credit cards is updating it!

*original post*
Was fortunate to be on a call with market state and network leaders today and to hear speakers including Kim Lyons, a long time supporter of small retailers at MerchantSource®; she gave us a great overview today of the chip and pin enabled devices/aka EMV devices/aka smart card technology that is coming down the pike. Here is what I heard, and as I get updates I’ll post them here and if what I wrote here needs to be corrected by my more able colleagues, I’ll also update. But since I know many markets don’t have state or network support systems, I felt it was necessary to get this on radar screens asap.And do remember, this is also important for market vendors that have their own credit card machine to address, so feel to print this out and share widely.

Chip and pin technology has existed for many years in Europe but had not been pushed in the US market- that was, until some of the worst security breaches of cards seen happened in the past year, including the Home Depot and Target breaches. So, whether or not those issues would be solved by it, chip and pin technology is coming and coming soon.

nobrand

This technology means credit and debit cards contain an embedded microchip and are authenticated automatically using a PIN. When a customer uses a card, it is placed into a “Point of Sale” (POS) terminal, which connects to the chip on the card. To complete the transaction, the customer enters a 4-digit PIN. These new technologies are meant to reduce the likelihood of breaches, especially at the merchant level. This is also true of new app-based systems (also called “contactless systems”) like Apple Pay which allow a user to upload credit cards to their iPhone 6 and use encrypted “near-field technology” to just tap or wave the smart phone at the merchant pad. The card itself never leaves ones wallet in those cases.

This chip and pin technology directly relates to all debit and credit but not to EBT only technology because EBT uses a different software kernel (system). However, many expect FNS to address this issue with changes in their technology sooner or later.
Important to note: This technology is for “card present” (CP) transactions and so internet or phone based transactions aka card not present (CNP) transactions will need their own version of chip and pin; some exist already. Of course, markets are not usually running CNP transactions so this is less of an issue right now for physical farmers markets.

There is a great deal left to learn about these issues as markets move into the next generation of technology. What is crucial to understand right now is the expected deadline of October 2015 for having this emv/pci compliant technology will shift liability of any breach on to merchant’s shoulders rather than the merchant providers of Mastercard/Visa etc. After that expected date of October 2015, in order for liability of any breach to stay with the merchant service providers, it will be necessary for any retailer to have these integrated pin pads or systems at that point. That means either adopting brand new card technology or app-based services like Apple Pay or upgrading their existing magnetic stripe only capabilities.
Once again, this technology is not directly related to EBT right now as a different type of technology so EBT only machines are not affected at this time but rumors abound of possible changes…

A recap of what is written above: Markets or state associations need to know if their merchant service providers or app-based solutions are emv/pci/contactless compliant. This new technology needs to be embedded into their pin pads or new technology by October of 2015 or the liability for any breach shifts to the merchant (read market). That entering into any lease system for readers at this point may mean getting technology that is “end of life” and cannot be upgraded or may mean paying for equipment after its technology is outdated. (Leasing versus renting contract language also needs to be understood by the buyer!) So, state associations, national partners and advocates for farmers and markets are working hard to understand these issues and to find resources for markets and farmers to understand the issues that will arise.

===================================================
What was also raised on this call was Farmers Market Coalition’s new contract with FNS to administer 3.3 million in support grants to markets for EBT systems and 700,000 in replacement equipment. I am sure that system along with the existing Marketlink system (which is an entirely separate program from FMC’s contract and supports NEW EBT systems for markets and for market farmers) are both going to work diligently on making sure these new systems are addressed.
Start reading up, folks.

FMC’s SNAP EBT Equipment Program is Open

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has partnered with the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) to provide eligible farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment necessary to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

WHAT


FMC will cover the costs of purchasing or renting SNAP EBT equipment and services (set-up costs, monthly service fees, and wireless fees) for up to three years. After their application has been approved, eligible farmers and farmers markets will choose their own SNAP EBT service provider from a list of participating companies. Transaction fees (for SNAP EBT, credit, and debit payments) will not be covered.

WHEN

The application is now open. This is a first-come, first-serve opportunity, which will be over when all the funds have been allocated.

WHO

SNAP-authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers (who sell at one or more farmers markets) are eligible for funding if they became authorized before Nov. 18, 2011, AND fall into one of the following categories:

They do not currently possess functioning EBT equipment;
OR They currently possess functioning EBT equipment, but received that equipment before May 2, 2012.
Wondering what qualifies as ‘not currently possessing functioning EBT equipment?’ Markets and farmers do not currently possess functioning EBT equipment if:

They currently rely on manual/paper vouchers to accept SNAP,
They do not currently accept SNAP and have never possessed functioning SNAP EBT equipment,
-OR-

They do not currently accept SNAP because their EBT equipment is
:

Damaged beyond repair.
Non-operational because their SNAP EBT service provider no longer offers SNAP EBT processing in their state.
Stolen or lost.
For more information on the program, including frequently asked questions, an eligibility chart, background information and application instructions, visit HERE.

Big Data and Little Farmers Markets, Part 3

I used these examples in Part 2 of this series, but wanted to use them again for this post. To review:

Market A (which runs on Saturday morning downtown) is asked by its city to participate in a traffic planning project that will offer recommendations for car-free weekend days in the city center. The city will also review the requirement for parking lots in every new downtown development and possibly recalibrate where parking meters are located. To do this, the city will add driving strips to the areas around the market to count the cars and will monitor the meters and parking lot uses over the weekend. The market is being asked for its farmers to track their driving for all trips to the city and ask shoppers to do Dot Surveys on their driving experiences to the market on the weekend. Public transportation use will be gathered by university students.

Market B is partnering with an agricultural organization and other environmental organizations to measure the level of knowledge and awareness about farming in the greater metropolitan area. For one summer month, the market and other organizations will ask their supporters and farmers to use the hashtag #Junefarminfo on social media to share any news about markets, farm visits, gardening data or any other seasonal agricultural news.

Market C is working with its Main Street stores to understand shopping patterns by gathering data on average sales for credit and debit users. The Chamber of Commerce will also set up observation stations at key intersections to monitor Main Street shopper behavior such as where they congregate.

Market D has a grant with a health care corporation to offer incentives and will ask those voucher users to track their personal health care stats and their purchase and consumption of fresh foods. The users will get digital tools such as cameras to record their meals, voice recorders to record their children’s opinions about the menus (to upload on an online log) with their health stats such as BP, exercise regimen. That data will be compared to the larger Census population.

So all those ideas show how markets and their partners might be able to begin to use the world of Big Data. In those examples, one can see how the market benefits from having data that is (mostly) collected without a lot of work on the market’s part and yet is useful for them and for the larger community that the market also serves.

However, one of the best ways that markets can benefit from Big Data is slightly closer to home and even more useful to the stability and growth of the market itself. That is: to analyze and map the networks that markets foster and maintain, which is also known as network theory.
Network theory is a relatively new science that rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s and is about exploring and defining the relationships that a person or a community has and how, through their influence, their behavior is altered. What’s especially exciting about this work is that it combines many disciplines from mathematics to economics to social sciences.

A social network perspective can mean that data about relationships between the individuals can be as useful as the data about individuals themselves. Some people talk about this work in terms of strong ties and weak ties. Strong ties are the close relationships that we use with greater frequency and offer support and weak ties are those acquaintances who offer new information and connect us to other networks. The key is that in order to really understand a network, it is important to analyze the behavior of any member of the network in relation to other members action. This has a lot to do with incentives, which is obviously something markets have a lot of interest in.

From the book Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning about a Highly Connected World. By David Easley and Jon Kleinberg. Cambridge University Press, 2010. Complete preprint on-line at http://www.cs.cornell.edu/home/kleinber/networks-book/

From the book Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning about a Highly Connected World.
By David Easley and Jon Kleinberg. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Complete preprint on-line at http://www.cs.cornell.edu/home/kleinber/networks-book/

From the foodsystemsnetwork.org website

From the foodsystemsnetwork.org website

network analysis

network analysis

I could go on and on about different theories and updates and critiques on these ideas, but the point to make here is this is science that is so very useful to the type of networks that food systems are propagating. Almost all of the work that farmers markets do rely on network theory without directly ascribing to it.

Think about a typical market day: a market could map each vendors booth to understand what people come to each table, using Dot Surveys or intercept surveys. That data could assist the vendor and the market. The market will benefit in knowing which are the anchor vendors of the market, which vendors constantly attract new shoppers, which vendors share shoppers etc. The market could also find out who among their shoppers bring information and ideas into the market and who carrries them out to the larger world from the market. All of this data would be mapped visually and would allow the market to be strategic with its efforts, connecting the appropriate type of shoppers to the vendors, expanding the product list for the shoppers likely to purchase new goods and so on.

Network theory would be quite beneficial to markets in their work to expand the reach to benefit program users and in the use of incentives. Since these market pilots began around 2005/2006, it has been a struggle to understand how to create a regular, return user of markets among those who have many barriers to adding this style of health and civic engagement. Those early markets created campaigns designed to offer the multiple and unique benefits of markets as a reason for benefit program shoppers to spend their few dollars there. Those markets also worked to reduce the barriers whenever possible by working with agencies on providing shuttles, offering activities for children while shopping, and adding non-traditional hours and locations for markets. Those efforts in New York, Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts and Louisiana (among others) were positive but the early results were very small, attracting only a few of the shoppers desired. When the outcomes were analyzed by those organizations, it seemed that a few issues were cropping up again and again:
1. The agency that distributed the news of these market programs didn’t understand markets or did not have a relationship of trust with their clients that encouraged introduction of new ideas or acceptance of advice in changing their habits.
2. The market itself was not ready to welcome new benefit program shoppers- too few items were available or the market was not always welcoming to new shoppers who required extra steps and new payment systems.
3. Targeting the right group of “early adopters” among the large benefit program shopping base was impossible to decipher.
4. Some barriers remained and were too large for markets alone to address (lack of transportation or distance for example).
4. Finding the time for staff to do all of that work.

Over time, markets did their best to address these concerns, which has led to the expansion of these systems into every state and a combined impact in the millions for SNAP purchases at markets alone. The cash incentives assisted a great deal, especially with #2 and #4. However, this work would be made so much easier and the impact so much larger if network theory was applied.
Consider:
Market A is going to add a centralized card processing system and has funds to offer a cash incentive. But how to spend it? And how to prepare the market for the program?

If the market joined forces with a public health agency and a social science research team from a nearby university, it might begin by mapping the networks in that market to understand the strong and weak ties it contains as well as the structural holes in its network. It might find out that its vendors attract few new shoppers regularly or that the market’s staff is not connected to many outside actors in the larger network, thereby reducing the chance for information to flow.
It might also see that younger shoppers are not coming to the market and therefore conclude that focusing its efforts on attracting older benefit program shoppers (especially at first) might be a strategic move. If the market has a great many low-income shoppers using FMNP coupons already, the mapping of those shoppers may offer much data about how the market supports benefit program shoppers already and how it might expand with an audience already at market
The public health agency might do the same mapping for the agencies that are meant to offer the news of the market’s program. That mapping might find certain agencies or centers are better at introducing new ideas or have a population that is aligned already with the market’s demographic and therefore likely to feel welcomed.

As for incentives, what markets and their partners routinely tell me is more money is not always the answer. Not knowing what is expected from the use of the incentives or how to reach the best audience for that incentive is exhausting them or at least, puzzling them.
If markets knew their networks and knew where the holes were, they could use their incentive dollars much more efficiently and run their markets without burning out their staff or partners.
They might offer different incentives for their different locations, based on the barriers or offerings for each location. (They may also offer incentives to their vendors to test out new crops.)
If connectors are seen in large numbers in a market, then a “bring a friend” incentive might be offered, or if the mapping shows a large number of families entering the system in that area, then an incentive for a family level shopping experience may be useful.
One of the most important hypotheses that markets should use in their incentive strategy is how can they create a regular shopper through the use of the incentive. Of course, it is not the only hypothesis for a market; a large flagship market might identify their role as introducing new shoppers to their markets every month and use their funds to do just that. But for many markets with limited staff and small populations in and around the market, a never-ending cycle of new shoppers coming in for a few months and then not returning may not be the most efficient way to spend those dollars or their time. So this is also where network theory could be helpful.
By asking those using their EBT card to tell in detail where and how they heard about the program and by also tracking the number of visits they have after their introduction, we could begin to see which introductions work the best. Or by asking a small group of new EBT shoppers to be members of a long-term shopping focus group to track what happens during their visit (how many vendors they purchase from and how long they stay) and after (see Market D example at the top), we could learn about what EBT shoppers in that area value in their market experience. We may also find out that the market has few long-term return shoppers from the EBT population or we may find out that connectors become easy to spot and therefore they can be rewarded when sharing information on the market’s behalf.
In all of these cases, it will be easier for the staff to know what to do and when to do it if they understand their networks both in and around the market.
And of course, mapping the larger food systems around the markets’ systems would be exciting and could move policy issues to action sooner and allow funding to be increased for initiatives to fill the holes found.

However markets do it, what seems necessary is to know specifically who is using markets and how and why they decided to begin to use them and to whom those folks are connected. Network theory can be the best and widest use of the world of Big Data, especially to accomplish what Farmers Market Coalition has set as their call to action: that markets are for everyone.

Some reading, if you are interested:

http://www.foodsystemnetworks.org

The Tipping Point

http://www.cs.cornell.edu/home/kleinber/networks-book/networks-book-ch03.pdf

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/301/5634/827.full.pdf

http://melander335.wdfiles.com/local–files/reading-history/kadushin.pdf

Mo’ Money? No Problem.

IMG_1536

The picture is from my regular weekly, year-round Saturday market, founded in 1996 in the small town of Covington Louisiana, which is only 40 miles north of New Orleans but separated from it by Lake Pontchartrain and its 24 mile-long bridge.

The market is very ably run by sisters Jan and Ann, using very minimum staff hours but with enormous amounts of community buy-in. They have music scheduled every week, often have food trucks and during holidays have author signings or tasting events. The market has loads of seating, a permanent welcome structure with donated coffee and branded merchandise for sale. I tell you all of that to show how they balance the needs of the shoppers (by adding amenities that cannot be offered by the vendors) and the needs of their vendors (they keep the fees low by having less staff hours and carefully curate the products to showcase only high-quality regionally produced items), but also do their very best in their estimation to reduce their own wear and tear as staff.

To that end, they decided long ago to not participate in the same farmers market wireless machine/token system that we had in New Orleans; I had been the Deputy Director of that market organization and in 2006 or so had shared news of our emerging token and benefit program system with nearby markets in case they wanted to add the same; Covington told me then they didn’t see the need in their small town, even though they know and care about the large number of low-income people on benefit programs living nearby and do their best to offer a wide variety of price points and goods. I must confess that after our initial chat I was a bit disappointed by the lack of interest in expanding the reach, but soon realized this was an example of a particular type of market (rural niche) and the leadership was comfortable with the middle-class vibe they had certainly attracted. And I also realized a few years later that if they had been influenced by our complex system, it would have probably been a wrong move for the market at that time (more on that later.)

They knew, however, they at least needed the access for shoppers to get more cash and had asked the bank (a market sponsor) to have an ATM, and had also asked the municipality to add one (the market space is on city hall property), but couldn’t get anyone to move on the request. Finally, a 3rd party entrepreneur approached them to put one in and ta-daa, they finally have their ATM. It is moved in on Saturday morning and out again when the market is done, but the market will have a conversation soon with the mayor (a strong market supporter) about getting it there permanently. I was thrilled to see even that machine, as the nearest bank is blocks away and on far too many days I have grumpily got BACK in my truck to get more cash.

And in the days since those early rounds of proselytizing for (only) a centralized token/EBT/Debit system at every market, my own work has led me to the conclusion that instead there needs to be a suite of systems for markets to choose the appropriate version to process cards, rather than just the one system for everyone. Some markets can serve their shoppers with an ATM (some can own it, some can lease theirs and some can have a 3rd party offer the service like Covington), with some farmers having EBT/debit access on their own; some markets can use a phone-in system for EBT and have a Square on a smart phone at the market or farmer-level; some need the centralized system, but are figuring out electronic token systems; and yes, some do still need to bells and whistles of the centralized token system; and some markets need that system that is still developing, as technology continues to change to add more options for these systems.

What will help this multi-tiered system to happen is for markets to keep on sharing their ideas with each other and to gather data on why their system works for their community. That may be as simple as doing a regular Dot Survey/Bean Poll to ask shoppers about the interest in card use, or doing an annual economic survey like SEED, or asking their vendors on their annual renewal/application form about their use or projected use of card technology (you’d be surprised how many vendors already have Square or another version of it). And markets and vendors that do have the technology need to track the time and effort it takes to process cards and to build the entire system, which includes some outreach and marketing, and a significant amount of bookkeeping and share that information.

I keep gathering examples of innovation among markets and hope that sooner or later I (or other more able researchers) can be tasked with conducting in-depth research about those ideas to offer the market field a more comprehensive and dynamic view of all of the great ideas managed by our market systems. In the meantime, if you come to Covington your pajeon (warm Korean pancake) is on me; after all, I’ve got the cash.

FMC’s Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program is Open

As you may have heard, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) partnered with the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) to provide eligible farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment necessary to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

WHAT


FMC will cover the costs of purchasing or renting SNAP EBT equipment and services (set-up costs, monthly service fees, and wireless fees) for up to three years. After their application has been approved, eligible farmers and farmers markets will choose their own SNAP EBT service provider from a list of participating companies. Transaction fees (for SNAP EBT, credit, and debit payments) will not be covered.

WHEN


The application period will open at 9:00am EST Tuesday, February 17th, 2015. This is a first-come, first-serve opportunity, which will be over when all the funds have been allocated. Don’t wait!

WHO


SNAP-authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers (who sell at one or more farmers markets) are eligible for funding if they became authorized before Nov. 18, 2011, AND fall into one of the following categories:

A. They do not currently possess functioning EBT equipment; OR

B. They currently possess functioning EBT equipment, but received
that equipment before May 2, 2012.

Wondering what qualifies as ‘not currently possessing functioning EBT equipment?

Markets and farmers do not currently possess functioning EBT equipment if:

They currently rely on manual/paper vouchers to accept SNAP,
They do not currently accept SNAP and have never possessed functioning SNAP EBT equipment, or
They do not currently accept SNAP because their EBT equipment is
:
Damaged beyond repair.
Non-operational because their SNAP EBT service provider no longer offers SNAP EBT processing in their state.
Stolen or lost.
For more information on the program, including frequently asked questions, an eligibility chart, background information and application instructions, visit them at farmersmarketcoalition.org/programs/freesnapebt
found here.

FNS begins process to offer grants for replacement EBT services and equipment

This is a pre-solicitation notice to assist Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and State agencies to establish a process to award support grants to eligible farmers’ markets and to develop a method that offer replacement Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefits Transaction (SNAP EBT) equipment and services for farmers’ markets and direct-marketing farmers.
The solicitation package will be posted on fedbizopps on or August 22, 2014. All additional details (i.e. closing date, FAR Clauses, Evaluation Factors) will be included in the solicitation package.

The request for proposal (RFP) will have a two part evaluation. Part 1 will be evaluated using a pass/fail evaluation. Part 1 evaluation factor is Experience: Offeros shall demonstrate experience with Farmers Markets and direct-marketing farmers nationwide and associated partnership experience working with the Farmer Market and direct-marketing farmer.

RFP

Part 2 evaluation factors will be provided in the solicitation package.

Alternatively, interested parties may go to https://www.fbo.gov/ and search for the Notice by using the solicitation number AG82014.

An Introduction to MarketLink: Are you eligible to receive a free SNAP/EBT system for your market?

Farmers Market Coalition and Wholesome Wave are co-hosting a FREE webinar:

Wednesday August 13, 2014 3:00pm-4:30pm EST

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) launched MarketLink, a website that provides farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers with a one-stop-shop to become an authorized SNAP vendor and take advantage of USDA funding to obtain free or low-cost equipment and wireless services. Up to $4 million in grants for SNAP/EBT technology solutions will be available through this program for eligible markets through September 30, 2014. The quickly approaching deadline means that eligible farmers and market managers are making this important decision right now. Wholesome Wave and Farmers Market Coalition are co-hosting this free webinar to address your unanswered questions about MarketLink. Through this webinar, you will:
understand the USDA’s funding stream for enhanced SNAP benefits at markets
learn who is eligible to access USDA funding through MarketLink
learn about MarketLink, an iPhone-based EBT system that taps into $4 million in USDA funding to help new markets become SNAP/EBT accessible
hear an on-the-ground perspective on applying through MarketLink and implementing EBT
Panelists:

Rogelio Carrasco of the USDA’s Food And Nutrition Service will present an overview of the USDA’s funding for improved access to SNAP benefits at markets and the history of Marketlink
Amy Crone of NAFMNP and the Maryland Farmers Market Association will present the MarketLink program and provide an in-depth description of eligibility and application process
Sara Berney, Executive Director of Wholesome Wave Georgia, will discuss her experience applying for funds through MarketLink and recommendations for others

To register to for this webinar, please click here.

Please contact Liz at FMC at liz@farmersmarketcoalition.org, with any questions on the webinar.