It’s no secret that the cannabis industry is dominated by cash. (For reference, 19% of non-cannabis transactions are cash versus up to 90% of cannabis transactions.) Until banking reform or full legalization happens on a federal level, many financial institutions will continue refusing to work with state-legal operators. The major credit card processors notoriously prohibit cannabis transactions through their networks, which means that cannabis payments must be transacted using other methods – the most popular of which is cash.

Unfortunately, having to rely so heavily on cash is risky. Criminals view cash-intensive businesses like dispensaries as lucrative targets, putting employees and customers in danger. Many operators still have informal cash processes that can make it difficult to properly track cash for compliance purposes. Sometimes employees or owners even have to transport significant amounts of cash to the bank themselves. And another unpleasant threat is the risk of internal theft, which is much harder to detect with cash transactions.

In addition to being risky, cash is expensive for businesses. The labor needed to count cash and reconcile drawers, the inevitable shrink from honest mistakes or theft, and the logistics in protecting, storing, and transporting cash all add up.

Whether you’re a large MSO or an independent operation, it’s wise to have a plan to safely, securely, and compliantly handle these large volumes of cash. There are loads of options available to meet your needs. In fact, you may not be aware of all the cash management solutions at your disposal. Or, you might need a little more information to help you decide what’s best for you.

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We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions when it comes to cash management solutions for cannabis. If you’re looking for specific guidelines on cash management best practices, the National Association of Cannabis Businesses and the Emerging Markets Coalition jointly released a set of industry standards to promote efficiency, compliance and security.

CASH ON SITE

What is a cash recycler? What are the options?

A cash recycler is a system that streamlines the process of accepting and dispensing cash. A cash recycler also allows you to hold your cash on site securely while also giving you visibility to the cash you have on hand. 

What is a smart safe?

A smart safe is a secure device that automatically accepts, validates, records and stores cash. They have the ability to connect to the internet, the POS, other cash management technology and back-office systems.

CASH TRANSPORTATION & DEPOSITS

What are some of the names of national cash transporters that service cannabis?

Most national providers don’t work in the cannabis industry. However, there are several companies that service cannabis on a regional or national level. Companies like Liberty Defense Group and Empyreal Logistics are reputable groups that operators can rely on. 

How do I deposit cash in my bank account? 

Abaca doesn’t recommend servicing cash logistics internally. Armored car providers are protected and insured against loss. Insured armored cash logistics providers pick up the cash from your business and transport it to the bank. The cash is vaulted, counted, and deposited into your bank account.

What does the cash pickup process look like?

Cash couriers pick up cash on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in most markets. Cash is transported to a vault and counted, and the amount is transmitted to the bank. Depending on your cannabis banking provider, it may take between 48 hours and 10 days to receive access to cash deposits after pickup. 

Is cash pickup available everywhere? Even very remote areas?

Yes, most areas are covered. Remote areas may only be able to obtain cash logistics services bi-weekly or monthly basis. 

Who can provide cash logistics or armored car services for my cannabis business?

Providers vaulting and depositing at the Federal Reserve are required to have contracts with the banks they service. Cash logistics companies that work with banks are trusted providers. The banks have evaluated their insurance limits and contracts to ensure the funds are financially secure. 

How long does it take for cash to appear in a bank account?

Typically 24-48 hours. This is dependent on the location of the pickup and the nearest vault. 

How does having a cash counter affect this turnaround time?

Cash counters can help reduce the amount of time it takes to count the cash to prepare it for pickup. Rather than counting it out manually, the cash counter can provide this service for you in a quicker and more efficient manner. 

Can CBD/ancillary companies get cash pickup?

CBD/Ancillary companies do qualify for cash pickup. This decision should be based on the volume of cash you have coming in to ensure it is a scalable service for your business.

What is legacy cash and how is it dealt with?

Legacy cash is a term used to describe cash that has been accumulated over time and not deposited into a bank account. The time frame associated with legacy cash varies from bank to bank, but it is typically cash that goes undeposited for more than 60 days. 

If you have a large amount of legacy cash, an independent auditor’s review may be required to validate that it came from legitimate business transactions. The legacy cash deposit may also be subject to a higher fee. 

Can a business owner drive the cash themselves to the Federal Reserve?

Only licensed and authorized cash couriers can deposit to the Federal Reserve. 

How is cash pickup priced?

Each provider has its own pricing. Typically there is either a flat rate for pickup that varies based on the location and/or a basis point fee based for processing volume. Usually that volume fee is somewhere around 0.1%.

Is there a cap on cash pick up?

Approved cash logistics providers are insured for the value of their cargo and will not carry above insured limits. Typically, this means each cash pickup is limited to about $500,000 per client to ensure the courier remains below their insured limit. Depending on the provider, you may be able to deposit more than $500,000 or the normal limit for a fee upon request.

CONCLUSION

Investing in a cash management solution for your cannabis business will reduce time spent counting cash, reduce the risk of loss, and aid in traceability. There are multiple options to accommodate your business’s individual needs.

If you have more questions or want a customized solution, schedule some time with one of Abaca’s financial solutions consultants to learn more!

All information contained in this article is accurate as of 5/18/2022.

Want to learn more about deploying purpose-built cannabis financial solutions to automate and improve compliance? Contact Abaca today.

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