Buying and selling marijuana can be a lot more complicated than most people are used to. In a society accustomed to swiping and tapping their way to payment, where business owners would normally have no issue opening a traditional bank account with any bank in their city, federal illegality of pot has made what should be straightforward far more complex. This has resulted in many businesses having to operate cash-only, which can be onerous, not to mention endangering businesses and employees by making them an easy target for theft. Despite some concerns with bitcoin, a digital currency created by computers “mining” ever more difficult problems, two companies in Washington State are making it more feasible for cannabis companies.
There are a lot of benefits: installing one of these bitcoin kiosks allows cash-only retailers to accept the digital currency, which the customer can purchase with their credit card. It also helps retailers avoid high fees for micro-transactions from the use of a card, and the customer is charged a flat $2 per transaction.
However, Bitcoin has a reputation due to it’s use on the darknet and association with ransomware, where a hacker either prevents access to information on personal tech, or threatens to publish private information if the victim doesn’t pay, usually in bitcoin, in a certain period of time. Bitcoin is also hard to comprehend, and not intuitive for use in most situations. That aside, it could be a stopgap method for dispensaries that are hoping to make card transactions possible of their customers, which businesses report has resulted in some customers buying more product at once, since they don’t need to carry cash.
Cannabis was a $6 billion industry in 2016, and is projected to grow to $50 Billion by 2026. Cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational purposes in 8 states–California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, Alaska, and Colorado–plus the District of Columbia, and is legal for medical use only in an additional 20 states. That’s almost 30 states selling legal cannabis in one form or another, and none of them are able to process credit card sales. In a time when most people use cards or other electronic methods almost exclusively for payments, customers being able to use their cards, even with an extra step, is a boon to the cannabis industry.