EPISODE #25 Banking Issues in the Cannabis Industry with Brian Meyer From Solvent

e23.png

This week, we’re celebrating our 25th episode! We’re  joined by Brian Meyer, Co-founder of Maryland based startup Solvent. Solvent empowers banks and credit unions to be the 'authority on identity' to confidently ensure all payments in cannabis are legal and compliant. Together, we examine the banking and payments problems which have arisen within the US.  

Episode Summary

  • Solvent describe themselves as a product for banks - empowering financial institutions to become the authority on identity. In high risk industries such as cannabis, there is no ‘transparency’ into banking ecosystems and the identities of customers. Solvent’s technology brings confidence to banks allowing them to gain a greater understanding of their customers, merchants and products. Solvent hemps to mitigate the risk of fraudulent payments.

  • In the USA, cannabis (both medicinal and recreational)  is federally illegal but legal in specific states.

  • In 2014 the federal government released some guidelines suggesting how to bank with cannabis transactions, although these were vague and hard to follow. In the USA, there isn’t any technology which allows institutions to follow these guidelines confidently.

  • Most of the institutions in the USA who ‘bank’ cannabis are credit unions and small community banks - if you are federally insured you are unable to bank cannabis due to the risks involved.

  • The limited opportunities which do exist within the US are incredibly expensive and costly - which is a major issue. There are many legal businesses across the states who do not have access to the correct banking services they need to grow their companies.

  • A topic of conversation within the USA at the moment is ‘The Safe Banking Act’, which is a proposed legislation regarding disposition of funds gained through the cannabis industry in the United States. If passed, states within the USA will be allowed to create their own laws around cannabis sales without the federal government being able to intervene. This gives power to business operating within the space as they can operate without the fear of being shut down. 

  • Banks which are regulated at a federal level in the USA are generally fearful of potential repercussions by having cannabis merchants as their customers. 

  • The recent federal legalisation of hemp has meant that hemp farmers, hemp merchants and CBD merchants are having a hard time finding banking and payment solutions as financial institutions and regulating bodies cannot verify product. 

  • THC flower and Hemp flower look incredibly similar, unless you have technology which can verify each product - it is considered too risky to bank these products.

  • Solvent’s payment processing provides an extra layer of compliance for financial institutions, allowing legitimate businesses to thrive and continue growing. 

  • Solvent’s value proposition is that they build an ‘entire ecosystem’ for the institution, in the sense that if a merchant wants banking, they have to go through a detailed onboarding process including information about the owners and the items sold. The technology also helps banks to file legally required Suspicious Activity Reports and Currency Transaction Reports.

  • Solvent’s data lives inside a blockchain, although this isn’t their core technology. 

  • Solvent rate their merchants on how compliant they are being on a score from 1-100 and banks can see their risk profile score meaning they will be flagged if suspicious activity is suspected.

  • Brian started his own watersports business in Maryland after he graduated from The University of Hawaii, which allowed him to create his own freedom and the life he had always wanted. As a seasonal business, he was looking for new opportunities during periods of downtime. He was introduced to a cannabis entrepreneur during this time who asked for his help on a project which he had already started. This is where Brian entered the industry. 


Quotables

  • Even though [the industry] is more structured than it has been in the past, it’s still like the wild wild west, where there’s not the structure yet. 20:30

  • 60% of cannabis businesses still don’t have banking 17:50

  • This industry is growing rapidly and it is really hard for technology to keep pace 21:50

Recommended Resources