It's been three years since the 2018 Farm Bill removed CBD from Schedule I of the list of controlled substances. It was an exciting time and a monumental move for the hemp industry. Entrepreneurs everywhere viewed it as a game changer for the CBD industry.
But the excitement quickly waned. CBD's "legality" only added to the confusing legal gray area that CBD exists in. Alongside all the opportunity also came new roadblocks and more red tape. It soon became clear that access to banking and CBD merchant account services was just as hard-won as the de-schedule itself.
Entrepreneurs quickly realized that selling a legal product and accepting payments for that product were two different things. This is especially true in the eyes of the Federal Government. The main problem? There were no FDA guidelines for consumer products containing CBD.
Since then, access to reliable and transparent CBD payment processing has been a constant source of frustration.
In the early days of CBD legality, domestic banks would not openly service CBD merchants. Businesses that wanted to sell CBD products weren't able to open a traditional CBD merchant account. Businesses were scrambling to find a way to accept payment for CBD products. Often resorting to loopholes and sneaky workarounds.
CBD merchant account services have a turbulent past.
It seemed like each time a great CBD payments program opened up for the industry it was shut down just as quickly. Every time a bank took a chance on processing payments for the CBD industry, they would take a pause. It was only a matter of time before they realized the risk was too high to keep these merchants on board. Sooner than later they would have to (or be pressured to) close down the program.
There were no affordable CBD merchant accounts that were both transparent and reliable. CBD merchants had to deal with a myriad of workarounds and subpar solutions to accept payments for CBD.
Many CBD merchants turned to accepting payments with processors like Square and Stripe. They enjoyed the instant approval of being lumped into an aggregate account and accepting payments immediately. But it was short-lived once the underwriting team found out what they were selling and shut them down.
Offshore processors, a necessity for certain high-risk businesses, are not without their own difficulties (and costs). CBD businesses had to pay excessive fees, endure large portions of their funds being held, and deal with high card declines.
Blockchain wallet solutions required businesses to jump through hoops to get paid, causing cash flow problems for business owners.
Elavon, a prominent payment processor, issued a mass shut down of all their CBD merchants. It left hundreds of businesses without any way to accept payments. And to top it off, CBD merchants found themselves listed on the Terminated Merchant File (TMF). Which, unfortunately, made it even more difficult to obtain a merchant account.
Warning letters went out to the largest CBD companies as the FDA embraced their new role of CBD oversight. CBD merchants had to learn about making product claims. And, learn to abide by regulations governing to whom and where they could sell their products.
It was a tumultuous time that resulted in lost money, lost business, and loss of trust in credit card processors.
Fortunately, those early experiences forged the way for access to transparent payment processing for CBD. By now, you’ve probably gone through more than a few trials and tribulations accepting payments in your CBD business.
While there are, finally, options for obtaining CBD merchant services, it's where you get them that makes the difference.
Obtain a CBD merchant account through a reputable high-risk merchant service provider.
When you’re in need of high-risk merchant services, you want a reputable merchant service provider on your side. You want to work with someone who isn't just jumping on the bandwagon. Your merchant service provider should have ample experience servicing the high-risk sector, of course. But, they should also have plenty of experience in the CBD and cannabis-related payments segment.
While it is not hard to get approved for a CBD merchant account, there are more requirements than a traditional retail merchant account. CBD merchants should view their relationship with their CBD payment processor as a partnership. They are your business partner enabling you to accept CBD payments. Your success relies on their service. They will also have access to you and your customer’s sensitive information, making security and trust imperative.
Because of this, it's important to vet the merchant account provider you’ll be working with. Dive deeper than the CBD processing rates they quote you. What types of solutions can they offer you? Are they being transparent with the acquiring bank? For instance, if they don't ask you to provide lab reports, it's probably not a transparent solution. Are they experienced and educated in the industry? And what type of customer service will they provide after you sign up? It’s important to work with a reputable payments provider, not just go for the (seemingly) best quote.
There’s one more way you can ensure you’re working with a credible merchant services partner.
Insist on working with an advisor who is certified as an ETA-Certified Payments Professional. This way, you can be sure you're working with someone who is educated in the payment industry regulations. This is a voluntary certification; it is not required by the Payment Card Industry (PCI). Representatives who’ve made the effort to complete this rigorous training are dedicated to bringing integrity to the industry.
As always, we work hard to offer our clients only the best and most reliable payment solutions available today. We've spent many years advocating for and creating transparent payment processing solutions for the CBD industry. We make it our duty to stay abreast of the laws and regulations surrounding the industry. And make every effort to bring that information to our clients.
We’ve gone to considerable effort to bring a payment solution that is both reliable and affordable. This way, CBD merchants can begin accepting credit cards quickly and securely.
Real CBD merchant accounts - no sketchy tricks.
CBD Oil, Tinctures, & Isolates
CBD Infused Beverages
CBD Vitamins & Supplements
CBD Topicals & Beauty Products
CBD Pet Products & Supplements
It is because of this work that we have forged strategic partnerships with domestic acquiring banks. And not just one CBD payment solution, we’ve partnered with 5 acquiring banks who offer transparent CBD merchant accounts. These partnerships allow us to provide reliable and transparent payment options to CBD merchants. But, it's having multiple solutions that makes it easy for us to tailor the solution to a CBD merchant’s specific needs.
It also makes it possible to serve all types of CBD merchants. E-commerce CBD stores or retail CBD stores - no problem. Accept payments online with a domestic eCommerce CBD merchant account. Brick and Mortar stores can accept payments through a retail CBD merchant account. Are you a brand new CBD start-up? We’ll get you going quickly since there are no requirements for prior processing history.
Our merchant accounts are both card brand-compliant and transparent - as stable as it gets. Merchants can accept all card brands, not just Visa and MasterCard. This helps to create a much more frictionless payment and buying process for your customers.
Our CBD merchant accounts are as close to a normal low-risk merchant account as it gets. We won’t require you to sign a long-term contract, and there will be no hidden fees. There are also no setup fees, holds, or reserves.
Thankfully, there are no requirements for huge reserve accounts with our domestic CBD payment solution. So, you won’t be subject to having your hard-earned profits held hostage. Simple, transparent pricing makes it easy to understand exactly what you’re being charged.
And to make things easy, we can integrate with your current store website or CBD POS system. We also offer the full range of CBD payment gateways (NMI, USAePay, AuthNet and more).
Have you had your CBD merchant account shut down in the past or was your business put on the MATCH list for selling CBD? No Problem. We can take merchants who are on the MATCH list as long as they closed the merchant account due to selling CBD.
Our promise for a great CBD merchant account doesn't stop at great rates. We aim to provide competitive pricing coupled with top-notch service. We want to be your go-to source for all of your merchant service. And we like to see our clients succeed. If there is ever a problem, we want you to call us. That’s why we provide our own customer service to our clients. During business hours, reach out to your personal account rep. And after hours, we provide a 24/7, American-based, customer service department. You will always have access to representatives that know how to service your needs.
Working with an experienced CBD payments provider has many benefits:
Tips for quick and painless CBD merchant account approval.
I can’t promise that it’s as easy to get a CBD merchant account as it is any other retail merchant account. Maintaining a compliant CBD payment processing solution requires due diligence and a bit more paperwork. Don't worry, our aim is to help you succeed in obtaining a CBD merchant account, not just apply for one!
That’s why we’ve taken the time to put together a list of documents CBD merchants will most likely need. In addition, we help to prepare our clients with tips on how to get approved quickly.
TIPS for fast CBD merchant account approval:
Complete only one merchant account application
You only want to complete one application with your merchant account provider. Turning in multiple applications raises a red flag and will only serve to get you denied. When you work with a reputable advisor, they will often have multiple solutions to fit your needs. This is another reason why it’s so important to find the right merchant account provider.
Gather supporting documents prior to application
Lab reports and CBD product supporting documents will be required. You are required to produce a Certificate of Analysis (COA) lab report for every product sold on your website. The product name on the lab report must match the product name on the website. And, of course, all labs must be 3rd party.
Fill out the application legibly
In fact, type the information into the application fields. This helps to avoid difficult to read handwriting and numbers. And be sure to fill out the application in its entirety before submitting it. If you have a question, call and ask. Empty fields will only delay the underwriting process and most banks will not process incomplete applications.
Sign application correctly
Make sure you know how they want your signature on the application. Some banks still require a “wet” signature and won't accept digital signatures. You’d be surprised how often this small thing is overlooked.
Only Submit a Complete and Accurate Application
Only turn in your application once your package is complete. Gather all supporting documents requested by underwriting. Scan them and assemble them in the order listed on your application “checklist”. Then submit the entire complete package in one email attachment or fax. A complete and tidy package goes a long way for quick underwriting and approval.
A trusted partner for your CBD merchant services needs.
Finally, partner with a merchant service provider who offers the solutions you need right now and in the future.
We are steadfast advocates of fair and transparent payment processing for the cannabis industry as a whole. We’ve partnered with only the most innovative financial institutions. Our focus has been on bringing transparent solutions for payments, compliance, and technology to the industry since 2006.
At Bankcard International Group, we stand behind our core values of “legitimacy, credibility, and transparency”. We hold ourselves to these values with our clients, as well as our banking partners. B.I.G. is dedicated to providing you with compliant and stable solutions so that we can forge a thriving long-term business relationship.
We've put a lot of hard work into creating partnerships that bring sustainable growth to the industry and to help your business succeed. Contact us for specific underwriting guidelines and restrictions as well as one of those transparent quotes we've been talking about!
When it comes to opening a reliable merchant account for CBD payments, we’d like to be your go-to partner. Give us a call and experience what we like to call the "BIG Difference!"