Abaca started in 2017 as an idea on a whiteboard with a simple goal: to solve cannabis banking and normalize financial services for the cannabis industry. Recently, we surpassed a major milestone: $1 billion in compliant cannabis transactions processed. That’s a lot of happy patients, customers, operators and suppliers.
As we reflect on this accomplishment, we strive to challenge our assumptions and bring to the table not only viable, but formative solutions to help our cannabis clients operate more effectively through a big pain point: compliant financial services for the cannabis industry.
Here’s a look at what we’ve learned and our biggest tips to folks starting out in the industry:
- Identify pain points. Whether you are a small business or an enterprise, multi-state operator, cannabis businesses have unique challenges when it comes to accessing compliant, FDIC-insured banking, accessible lending, and reliable payment processing. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. As the industry matures, so will the financial solutions available to the industry. As an example, when we first started out, a major goal was solving cannabis deposit banking in the markets. Now, we are working on a comprehensive platform called Abaca Treasury Center that allows MMJ operators to view all accounts in one easy-to-use dashboard, manage accounts receivable more effectively, pay with ACH/electronic payments, manage multi-user access, view real-time cash on hand, and more.
- Fast change must drive swift evolution and action. The cannabis industry moves at a breathtaking speed and it continues to accelerate. Part of this is fueled by the different regulatory landscapes in each market. A pain point in one MMJ market breeds a solution that gives way to a breakthrough product in another. While it may seem challenging, it is essential to keep your fingers on the pulse of every active cannabis market. Thinking beyond our region and even our nation has borne great partnerships with international operators, bringing breakthrough change to the U.S. cannabis market. An example is our cash management product. Working with Italian technology companies, Abaca is able to give managers a real-time view of cash position, safe log access, drop access and more. The Abaca team has a dedicated resource to knowing and understanding nuances of each market and how evolutions in one cannabis market may be enhanced by another market’s solutions. One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is unwinding our own assumptions as conditions change. We like to always remember what Steve Jobs said:“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs
- Bring your whole self to the table. This one may sound a little cliche, but it’s always good to remember. As our company has grown, so has our team. Our management team’s motto is to never get too busy growing the company to forget what’s most important: our customers success. Without that, we will never realize success. Our team instituted 360-interviews with customers and staff so that we always listen. We know the importance of customer feedback and that they know the answer to most of the problems we are solving.
- Grow or Go. We are borrowing this phrase from a client (Thank you!). Our client’s saying has stuck with us and become a part of our company culture. Large enterprises and small businesses have distinctly different needs and decision criteria when it comes to partnering with a financial services fintech. Although we started with a focus on the small business, our solution has grown and scaled along with our customers.
Our team at Abaca looks forward every day to coming to work and fueling the growth of the industry. As we grow and learn more, we continually develop tools with you in mind. Get in touch with us now and let us know how we can help you take your business to the next level.