Banking has always been a complex question for the cannabis industry, which has historically relied on cash-only payments to do business. Modern customers demand the same convenience and customer service they have grown to expect from any other retail store, however. Dispensaries that can expand their payment options will enjoy more business and higher revenue as well as better security.
The days in which dispensaries will simply be able to accept credit cards — just like any other retailer — might be a long way off. Still, dispensary payment options have certainly broadened in 2022.
Each option inevitably brings a set of pros and cons. Which dispensary payment options are the ultimate winners? Which will keep your customers happy and coming back for more, and which will allow you to manage your business with ease?
Cash remains the go-to payment option for many dispensaries. It may not have the same administrative challenges that accompany other payment options in the cannabis niche, but cash does come with its fair share of problems.
Dispensary owners know all about those problems. Bookkeeping becomes tedious when cash forms the backbone of your business, and there’s always the risk of human error. You miss out on the business of excited customers eyeing your goodies like a kid in a candy store if you can only accept the limited cash they carry. Storing large amounts of cash may, on the other hand, draw in unwanted “visitors”, making cash a ticking security time bomb.
Accepting cash is a good idea for most cannabis retailers. Dispensaries just need other options, too.
On-Site ATM Solutions
Some dispensaries get around the fact that their customers only carry limited amounts of cash by having ATMs installed on their premises in conjunction with a partnership program. This allows dispensaries to remain compliant with the complex regulations while still making it possible for customers to access their funds.
While on-site ATMs are a fairly popular dispensary option, this solution also has some disadvantages. Not only can having an ATM installed at your business lead to exorbitant fees, but modern customers also may not appreciate the convoluted payment experience, either. This can ultimately lead dispensaries to lose valuable customers.
Short for “Automated Clearing House”, ACH transfers allow funds to be transferred from one bank account to another, making this dispensary payment option safe and secure for dispensaries and customers alike.
To be compliant, many dispensaries will need to work with a third-party solution to make ACH transfers, which are readily accepted by customers, a reality. Some will find smaller financial institutions, like community banks, that can directly work with their unique business.
POSaBIT ACH allows customers to log in and store their banking information within our payments portal. After a one-time set-up process, they can make contactless purchases at your store. This is ideal for online, delivery, and in-store purchases.
No matter what crypto evangelists say, cryptocurrencies don’t yet functionally replace cash or card payment options. Regular consumers see crypto payments as unfamiliar and scary, and no matter how much they might want your product, they might well be unwilling to get up close and personal with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The fact that crypto comes with huge and unpredictable ups and downs makes allowing cryptocurrency payments a questionable business choice for dispensaries. That doesn’t even address that crypto faces many of the same legal uncertainties already associated with the cannabis industry.
Cryptocurrency will never be your primary payment option if you are hoping to run a successful business, in other words. If it were your only payment option, your customer base would be limited to cyber enthusiasts, and your business would be at the mercy of a rather volatile market.
Dispensaries who would like to be able to offer crypto as one of several payment options can, on the other hand, reap some rewards.
Cannabis retailers could potentially gain some loyal customers who are not only amazed at the quality of the product but also thrilled that the dispensary is willing to let them pay in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency of their choice.
Look before you leap, however, and make sure that you fully understand the pros and cons associated with crypto payments before you seriously consider adding this payment option. We have all seen the potential for success, but as of 2022, we have also certainly all become familiar with the great risks that doing business in cryptocurrency entails.
Point of Banking (Cashless ATM)
Consumers who regularly shop at dispensaries will already be very familiar with the system that has almost universally come to be known as the “cashless ATM”, but that is officially referred to as point of banking technology.
This payment option was originally designed for businesses facing complex legal limitations, such as cannabis retailers. It has faced challenges in recent years, resulting in leading providers like POSaBIT moving customers over to PIN debit payment solutions.
Cashless ATMs have small payment terminals that look like the point-of-sale systems you would come across at any other store. After entering their PIN numbers, customers can select a transaction, withdrawing what is classed as “cash” into the retailer’s bank account — because these terminals are technically ATMs.
One of the major drawbacks from the customer’s perspective lies in the fact that point of banking systems only allow customers to withdraw specific increments, and consumers can, therefore, never make an exact payment. Instead, consumers round the payment up and get change back from the budtender.
In addition to this inconvenience, customers are also charged a so-called convenience fee whenever they use a cashless ATM. While they may be perfectly fine with that, dispensary staff needs to make sure that they are completely transparent about this fact.
Dispensaries have long faced another challenge with the point of banking systems — rather than receiving the payment immediately, it takes two or three days for the funds to clear. What’s more, stand-alone point of banking terminals calls on dispensary staff to manually enter the correct amount prior to the transaction, which runs the risk of making mistakes.
The future of cashless ATMs for dispensaries is uncertain as of Visa’s warning that this method should not be used at dispensaries in late 2021. Some dispensaries that have implemented point of banking systems could face serious fines. Many are switching to solutions like POSaBIT pin debit.
Update: Most point of banking systems were unexpectedly shut down in December 2022.
Let’s face it — cash has increasingly become outdated and old-fashioned, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only sped up its already almost inevitable demise. People who have been buying herbs for decades may be used to cash-only payments and even prefer them. Still, as the cannabis market is exploding, younger consumers who have very clear preferences for cashless payment methods are flooding in to buy marijuana.
Dispensaries all over the country are itching to offer the same convenient payment methods that any other store would be able to. Some choose to scratch that itch.
Not all dispensaries are deterred by the fact that marijuana remains a banned substance on the federal level, making it impossible for major credit payment companies like Visa, MasterCard, and AMEX to process such payments legally.
They can begin working with credit card payments in various ways, including by operating a non-dispensary parent company, not declaring the nature of their business to the bank they are working with, or partnering with third-party providers.
These temporary solutions may offer customers the convenient, safe, and cashless payment option they crave in 2022, but they are fraught with risk. Dispensaries are extremely likely to ultimately have their accounts suspended and have a portion of their assets frozen.
To protect their current and future businesses, cannabis retailers should remain compliant and steer clear of the temptation to begin offering credit card payments as an option to their customers.
Modern dispensaries are well aware that their customers seek the same convenience and high level of customer service that has grown to expect from any business they shop at. Although many consumers are perfectly happy to pay cash when they visit a dispensary, business owners also know that cashless options encourage customers to spend more — they’re not limited to the cash they carry, after all.
How can dispensaries remain compliant while simultaneously offering cashless payment methods fit for the 21st century? Many business owners discover that the ideal solution lies in working with a third-party cashless payment provider.
POSaBIT has been a leader in the industry for years, and once you see what POSaBIT can do, it’s not difficult to see why.
Dispensary owners who have been dreaming of full debit processing will quickly discover that POSaBIT is exactly what their business needs. Imagine a modern point-of-sale terminal supported by a state-of-the-art computerized system that allows budtenders to process in-store payments while simultaneously being able to accept online orders.
POSaBIT’s pocket point-of-sale systems make curbside payments and cashless delivery payments a reality, too. Dispensary owners are even able to set up loyalty programs and personalized discount strategies as they see fit.
Customers, meanwhile, simply get to shop for the product they want and pay — without cash and without hassle.
POSaBIT gives dispensaries and their customers access to all of the dispensary payment solutions that would previously have been either unthinkable or too risky. PIN debit payments become not just possible but easy and risk-free for budtenders and customers.
With a partner like POSaBIT, dispensaries can finally function just like any other business. That may be all dispensary owners ever really wanted, but the benefits of working POSaBIT don’t end there. POSaBIT point of sale systems also offers budtenders tips on maximizing revenue while allowing each individual dispensary to set up a tip system that works for them.
What Are the Best Dispensary Payment Options in 2022?
There’s no getting around the fact that dispensaries still have to go about their banking solutions a little differently than other businesses.
Even consumers who are excited to visit a dispensary for the first time in 2022 know this. There are, in fact, entire consumer guides on what payment options to expect from local dispensaries, and many warn prospective customers to bring plenty of cash or get ready for cumbersome cashless ATM payments.
You may get by if you designate your business as cash-only, but you’ll face serious security risks, and your dispensary will never be able to reach its full potential.
With the future of cashless ATMs for dispensaries up in the air after Visa’s warning from December 2021, many dispensaries are looking to pin debit as a solution.
Dispensary owners who would like to maximize their security and income while offering their customers the convenience they’re used to are ultimately best off if they partner with a cashless payment solution provider like POSaBIT.
A modern, cashless, point-of-sale system that allows customers to give in to their urges to try all of your unique strains isn’t just “nice to have”, after all — it’s at the center of your business’ success.