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PIN Debit Cannabis Payment Processing

by Kimberly Baylies on December 17, 2020

Adult use states finally have options for cannabis payment processingIf you're in the cannabis industry, you are always looking for better ways to accept payments for your product. It seems that for every step forward the industry takes, there are two steps backwards. Federal Government and card brand violations have created an unstable, unreliable, and illegitimate payments environment. This environment potentially puts businesses, their owners, and their customers in harm's way. 

We are here to change that with the industry's only legitimate merchant account for cannabis payment processing.  First, let's take a brief look at the tumultuous road for cannabis merchants looking to accept card payments.

In our decades of working with the industry we have seen it all - gift card conversion schemes, Crypto currency, eWallets, mis-coded merchant accounts, and many more.  The one thing they all had in common was that they claimed to be legitimate cannabis payment processing solutions, but weren't.  Additionally, they were all breaking federal and or card brand regulations.  Potentially implicating everyone involved with bank fraud and or money laundering.

I’m sure you’ve probably read or heard from a lot of processors saying that they can help you accept credit cards.  If you are being told you can accept credit cards, or IF you are currently accepting credit cards for cannabis, just know that it is currently illegal.  Regardless of what your sales rep is telling you!

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Let’s not get caught up in all the bad things going on - let’s focus on what you CAN do! But first….

Why accept card payments for cannabis at all?

All cannabis businesses deserve to operate just like any other business.  It is hard to do that when you still have to accept payments like a clandestine business.  Here are some other reasons to accept card payments.

  • Increase Sales - It is a well-documented fact that when customers use their credit or debit cards to make a purchase, they spend 25-35% more!
  • Increase Safety - You know this.  The cannabis industry, its employees, and customers are often targeted for robbery.  Cashless payments help take the target off of you.
  • Save Money - Cash handling and cash deposit fees add up quickly!  Banks want electronic payments.  When you accept card payments, the sales are deposited directly into your business bank account.  Safe, simple, and fast.
  • Edge out the competition - Customers who prefer to pay for cannabis by card will have another reason for coming to your dispensary when the competition is still working on a cash only basis.
  • No barrier to sale - With legitimate solutions your customers will NOT have to register for an account, load the account, and provide sensitive information to an app. 
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Cannabis payment processing - how do I accept card payments for cannabis?Finding ways to accept payments for cannabis has been an uphill battle.

With so many “work around” solutions claiming to be legitimate, the real question is - how do I find a legitimate payment processing solution for my cannabis business?  

Do your due diligence on the provider offering you a service.  Ask a lot of questions.  Don’t just accept them telling you that they are legitimate and compliant. 

 Here are some important things you want to find out:

  • How long have they been in payment processing?  There are many “technology” groups and start-ups that do not truly understand the payments industry, let alone how cannabis transactions are affected.  They are just looking to make big margins and try to create loopholes.  We are all for innovation, but it has to be legitimate if it's going to help the industry.
  • How long have they been serving the cannabis industry?  And follow up with asking how much volume they are processing.  If it’s less than $5 million a month, then they’ll likely be shut down as soon as the volume increases.
  • Are they ETA Certified Payment Professionals?  This is the payment industry’s most respected certification.
  • Do your customers have to register for an account that they “load”?  These types of platforms hide the true nature of the transaction from the processor and card issuing bank, which is illegal.
  • What is your descriptor?  Will it match your business’ true DBA?  If not, then it’s likely the acquiring bank does not know that they are validating cannabis transactions.

B.I.G. offers 2 legitimate and transparent solutions.

PIN Debit Payment Processing for Cannabis

PIN Debit payment processing for cannabis allows your customers to use their ATM cards, or debit cards, to pay for their purchase at the POS. Pin based debit transactions are processed over the debit network, creating an EFT(electronic funds transfer) type of transaction for the exact dollar amount of the purchase.

Currently, our PIN Debit program is only approved by the bank and card brands to support licensed cannabis businesses within Adult Use states.  For dispensaries and delivery businesses in medical use states, we offer Cashless ATM service. This is also a great option for dispensaries and marijuana delivery companies to take payments.  However, they are NOT the same!  Many people confuse or look at PIN Debit and Cashless ATM as the same thing.

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Why is PIN Debit so great?

Cannabis dispensaries can accept PIN debit cards, and mobile wallet payments.Our compliant PIN Debit program is a big step in the right direction when it comes to fair access to financial services for the cannabis industry.  PIN Debit is the closest thing to a traditional card transaction the industry has available. Customers simply pick out their goods and purchase them with their debit card, just like they do at the grocery store. 

No service fees, no rounding up the transaction, no change back.  Just a “thanks for coming in” and “have a great day”!  Here are some highlights:

  • 100% cash free.  Transactions are for exact dollar amounts, which means...
  • NO cash handling
  • Less Confusion, costly mistakes, and access to cash
  • Less theft
  • NO need for drivers to carry any money
  • Your Customers will NOT be billed for “Out of Network” fees, which will make them happy!
  • Fully endorsed and approved by the debit networks
  • You can have multiple terminals under the same merchant account for easy reporting.
  • Sales have proven to increase by 25-35% + with PIN Debit solutions!
  • Costs less than cash handling and transportation fees!
  • Once there is a change at a federal level, your access to credit card processing can be simply turned on!
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How PIN Debit differs from a cashless ATM...

PIN Debit payment processing for cannabis is great but don't confuse it with the cashless ATM. 

Many times you will hear sales people talk about pin debit and cashless ATM in the same breath.  However, this type of payment processing is actually an entirely different payment option.

Cashless ATMs work the same way as an ATM, except that there really is no cash dispersed. The “withdrawal” is deposited to the merchant’s DDA.  In contrast, PIN Debit transactions are true, direct electronic payments.  The debit is processed and taken from the customer’s account and deposited directly to the merchant’s DDA through a merchant account.

With a cashless ATM, each “terminal” is a standalone account (like a traditional ATM).  Whereas with PIN Debit you can have as many terminals as you need associated with your account and they all report to the same portal.   

For those that are not familiar with how a cashless ATM transaction works. Cashless ATMs, are in the form of a terminal at the cashier.

  1. The customer who is looking to make a purchase would swipe or dip their ATM card and choose a “withdrawal” amount. This amount must be in increments of $5 or $20.
  2. The customer will then usually accept the convenience fee (determined by the dispensary owner) for using the ATM- just like any other free standing ATM.  NOTE: the customer may also be subject to an “out of network” fee for the transaction from their bank (anywhere from $1 to $3) for using the ATM.
  3. The machine then spits out a chit as a receipt for their purchase at the dispensary.  The bud tender then would provide change for the difference between the customer’s withdrawal and the purchase amount.
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This is where the PIN Debit for cannabis payment processing steps in and fills in the gaps.PIN Debit is the closest thing to a traditional card transaction for cannabis payments

One of the most impactful benefits of utilizing the PIN Debit Program in your cannabis dispensary or delivery business is the lack of cash handling.

First of all, having less cash in your store at any given moment has a multitude of advantages. Theft is a very real concern for everyone in the cannabis industry. They commonly keep large safes of cash.  They must hire armored cars to transport that cash to the bank for deposit.  Then pay fees for those cash deposits. These inconveniences are not out of the ordinary for business owners. 

When more of your transactions are handled through electronic funds transfer, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll enjoy being funded for sales directly into your account quickly and without the added costs of cash handling. 

For bud tenders, fewer cash transactions mean less confusion and lower chance of mistakes while also allowing for quicker transactions.  The same goes for delivery drivers. Many delivery services are now able to operate 100% cash free.  The fewer cash transactions they have to make, the less chance of mistakes in making change, and the threat of theft is lowered. 

Your customers will benefit from having access to PIN Debit payments for cannabis too. 

Customers will appreciate lower fees with each transaction. Since customers have to pay a fee to use a cashless ATM, they will appreciate being able to use their debit card just like they would in any store. There is much less confusion at checkout because PIN Debit is what we all do every day. With less friction at checkout, there’s more room for spur-of-the-moment purchases. Impromptu purchases help increase sales. 

More than anything, it's important to have options - for both you and your customers. Even if you already have a cashless ATM available, having a stable and transparent PIN Debit Program will help save you money.  It will keep your business safer, make your reporting easier, and bring you one step closer to transparent banking and financial services. 

At Bankcard International Group we are happy to help our business partners succeed with the most cutting edge, transparent, and legal payment options. Our ETA-Certified Payments Professionals are very well educated in the regulations of the payments world and only work through legal and transparent payment avenues.

Call us today and let us help you take your cannabis business to the next level.

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Topics: Cannabis, High Risk Merchant Account, cannabis dispensary, cannabis delivery