Shield Compliance, a platform for cannabis banking released an open letter calling for the nation's leading card brands, including Mastercard MA, Visa V, Discover DFS, American Express AXP to reverse their policies of prohibiting financial institutions to offer payments services connected to their networks to licensed cannabis merchants.
The news comes on the heels of several finance giants like Bank of America and Mastercard revealing they are lobbying for cannabis banking reform, or the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act. The NRA and GlaxoSmithKline GSX are also among the lobbyists.
"Banks and credit unions have demonstrated for nearly a decade that they can serve this industry without negative consequences by complying with FinCEN's guidance on marijuana banking, and we believe the card brands can do the same," stated Tony Repanich president and CEO of Shield Compliance. "Embracing cannabis payments aligns with the evolving landscape of legality and consumer demand and will foster a safer and more accessible payments ecosystem for all."
One of the biggest obstacles the cannabis industry faces is the lack of access to debit and credit card payments. Operating in cash only has made many cannabis shops targets for robbery; some businesses have resorted to using various loopholes to process transactions. Shield compliance points out that that the current law makes it harder for card brands to identify illegal operators and creates confusion and additional costs for consumers.
It is important to note that, according to some estimates, the U.S. Cannabis industry could reach $71 billion in legal sales in 2030. How can such a large industry have no access to financial services?
"The progress Shield Compliance has made in helping financial institutions expand access to banking is improving safety across the industry while streamlining compliance and mitigating risk," stated Michael Beird, founding partner of the American Cannabis Bankers Association (ACBA). "Building trust and cooperation between the financial services community and the cannabis sector is a primary goal of the ACBA and is why we are working with Shield to address the payments challenge."
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This article was originally published by Nina Zdinjak in Benzinga