Payment processing platform Square has announced its entry into the Canadian marijuana market through a collaboration with Jane Technologies, an online service that enables customers to order cannabis for store pickup or delivery. In line with the partnership, Square is poised to launch an early-access program tailored for licensed cannabis dispensaries in Ontario. The program will allow dispensaries to begin testing Square for retail point of sale (POS) solution within their brick-and-mortar stores, paving the way for a broader launch later on.
In addition to payment processing, Square’s new cannabis client services also feature real-time inventory tracking across various retail locations and compliance notifications in the event that an order exceeds Canada’s legal marijuana product purchase thresholds.
Square has been collaborating with CBD companies since 2019, despite persistent barriers to banking marijuana businesses. Square began an invite-only trial program in May of that year to provide services to CBD vendors, and the business expanded the program in October of the same year.
The entry of an established, well-known payment platform and point-of-sale provider might put pressure on rivals currently operating in the cannabis industry. Many of these competitors are comparatively smaller in scale compared to their more traditional financial counterparts, focusing primarily on serving cannabis and other heavily regulated enterprises.
In the United States, the conundrum surrounding federal marijuana illegality renders many cannabis companies incapable of accepting card payments for cannabis transactions. Financial institutions find themselves confronted with potential liabilities and legal repercussions for facilitating services to cannabis entities, thereby prompting most of them to steer clear of the industry altogether.
Consequently, certain companies have resorted to unconventional measures, such as deploying “cashless ATMs” to obfuscate cannabis sales as routine cash withdrawals. In a recent development, a Maryland tax official revealed that they refrain from categorizing cannabis transactions as such on tax returns to safeguard banks from potential legal consequences.
This admission elicited criticism from a group opposing cannabis legalization, accusing the state of shielding banks engaging in activities that breach federal law. However, both the state and its banking partner, Wells Fargo, asserted that the transactions adhered to applicable legal frameworks and regulations.
This week, a vote is scheduled in Congress regarding legislation aimed at facilitating banking relationships with cannabis enterprises. Several groups, including 35 marijuana trade associations, drug-policy reform organizations and a leading national labor union, issued a joint appeal to Congress, urging the body to pass the banking bill before the year ends to address the “humanitarian toll” inflicted by frequent robberies targeting cash-heavy cannabis enterprises.
As more enterprises such as Square join the likes of Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. (NYSE: IIPR) in addressing the unique needs of the marijuana industry, the hurdles that cannabis companies have to go through in their day-to-day operations will gradually decrease.
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