It’s no secret that banking and payment processing continue to be challenges for the hemp industry.  As a banker who has served the hemp industry since 2019, I’d like to offer several considerations for those in the hemp industry.  I hope they are helpful.

First and foremost, ensure that you are working with a hemp-friendly bank, and not just a hemp-friendly banker.  It is a sadly common story for hemp businesses to believe they are being served by a bank that understands and supports the hemp industry, only to have their accounts shut down with little or no warning.  In many of these situations, the hemp business had been working with a local banker that knew them; but unfortunately, the banker was working for a bank that does not support the hemp industry.  In banks that are not hemp-friendly, all it takes is one person in the bank to identify the business as hemp-related, and the local banker loses control and ultimately lacks authority to maintain the account. As a result, the account is often shut down immediately, leaving the business in a precarious position.  When you are evaluating banks, make sure the bank has an established hemp program and that they truly understand the industry.  If the bank has a hemp program but does not have experts in the industry, there is a high probability that they will eventually discover aspects of the industry with which they are not comfortable, putting the business at risk of having its accounts shut down.

If you own a hemp business and aspire to enter the cannabis industry, it’s wise to work with a bank that serves and understands both as it will make the addition of cannabis banking much easier.  You will also avoid the risk of having your hemp accounts shut down because you have entered the cannabis industry.

When searching for a merchant payments solution for your business, consider the following factors to ensure you choose the right provider:

 

  1. Direct Acquirer
    • Look to work directly with a bank or direct bank acquirer and eliminate the intermediaries. Opting to work directly with a bank or direct bank acquirer can lead to cost savings, operational efficiency, and a more tailored financial relationship that aligns with the specific needs and goals of your business.
  2. Payment Methods
    • Ensure the solution supports a variety of payment methods, including credit/debit cards, digital wallets, and other emerging payment options.
  3. Integration with Business Systems
    • Look for a solution that seamlessly integrates with your existing point-of-sale (POS) system, e-commerce platform, and accounting software.
  4. Security Features
    • Prioritize providers with advanced security measures such as encryption, tokenization, and compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
  5. Cost Structure
    • Understand the provider’s pricing model, including transaction fees, setup costs, and any hidden fees. Choose a transparent and cost-effective solution.
  6. Scalability
    • Select a solution that can scale with your business as it grows. This includes accommodating increased transaction volumes and expanding product lines.
  7. Customer Support
    • Evaluate the quality of customer support offered by the provider. Responsive and accessible support is crucial for addressing issues promptly.
  8. User-Friendly Interface
    • Opt for a solution with an intuitive and user-friendly interface. This is essential for both staff using the system and customers making payments.
  9. Mobile Accessibility
    • Check if the solution offers mobile payment options, especially if your business involves on-the-go transactions or has a mobile app.
  10. Reliability and Uptime
    • Ensure the provider has a reliable infrastructure with minimal downtime. A consistent and stable payment processing system is crucial for business operations.
  11. Compliance with Regulations
    • Verify that the solution complies with industry regulations and standards. This is particularly important for handling sensitive financial information.
  12. Customization Options
    • Look for a solution that allows customization to meet the specific needs of your business, such as branding and tailored reporting.
  13. Analytics and Reporting
    • Check for robust analytics and reporting features. The ability to analyze transaction data can provide valuable insights for business decision-making.
  14. Contract Terms
    • Review the terms of the contract carefully. Consider the flexibility of contract terms and whether there are any long-term commitments or cancellation fees.
  15. Reputation and Reviews
    • Research the provider’s reputation by reading reviews and testimonials. Consider feedback from businesses like yours to gauge their satisfaction.

By thoroughly evaluating these factors, you can find a merchant payments solution that aligns with your business requirements and contributes to a seamless and secure payment experience for both you and your customers.

About the authors

The authors are Jessica Santos-Brown, VP of West Town Payment Sales, and Ross Sloan, SVP and Specialty Banking Officer for Dart Bank.  More information can be found at   Dart Bank – Personal, Commercial, & Mortgage Banking and Hemp Banking | Best-in-class Solutions | West Town Payments.

 

This content is provided as a membership benefit to our valuable business level members. Due to several factors including the variances in state hemp laws and the differences in interpretation of federal law, NHA makes no warrants of the legality, efficacy or safety of any product, service or statement made by any third party.

We encourage all members and the general public to do their own due diligence on any business or product, and understanding their state’s and federal laws, before choosing to purchase any product or contracting for any service