Though some form of cannabis is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, a lack of banking options for cannabis businesses in the United States continues to force marijuana merchants to rely solely on cash transactions. This inhibition has been a major obstacle for dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses, but the use of bitcoin technology could be the key to overcoming the roadblock. SinglePoint, Inc. (SING) (SING Profile) has announced an initiative to develop a bitcoin payment solution for the marijuana industry, providing a much-needed financial transaction option and allowing cannabis businesses to accept credit card payments without the cooperation of banks or the FDIC. The growing popularity and acceptance of bitcoin is evidenced by the activities of companies like BTCS, Inc. (BTCS), Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), Zynga, Inc. (ZNGA) and Square, Inc. (SQ) and further validates the wisdom of exploring bitcoin payment options for the cannabis industry.
Bitcoin is a digital currency through which funds can be transferred independent of banks and unregulated by governments. On April 1, 2017, bitcoin became an official payment method in Japan, with hundreds of thousands of shops expected to accept bitcoin in that country throughout this year1. In the U.S., various major retailers are also accepting bitcoin, including Overstock.com, Inc. (OSTK), Microsoft and Subway2. Bitcoin has additionally provided annual returns of more than 286 percent, according to prices from CoinMarketCap.com.
As a financial transaction option for currently “unbankable” cannabis businesses in the U.S., bitcoin could be the perfect solution. New Frontier projections have shown the cannabis industry reaching $24 billion by the year 2026, and such significant growth demands adequate payment options to keep pace.
SinglePoint (SING) has partnered with First Bitcoin Capital Corp. (BITCF) (Press: http://nnw.fm/d1ewJ) to create a proprietary bitcoin payment solution for the cannabis industry. As part of its broader strategy (http://nnw.fm/1hoVP) to cement its position in the budding marijuana industry, SinglePoint has been actively providing corporate solutions to cannabis businesses through its SingleSeed subsidiary, offering mobile marketing and payment solutions such as cashless ATM, Pay-by-Text™ and text message marketing. The SingleSeed.com website has additionally become a popular resource for marijuana dispensaries that are seeking merchant payment processing solutions and other business tools.
The company has also made several acquisitions to take a diversified approach to the marijuana industry, without touching the actual plant. Its portfolio includes a majority stake in Discount Indoor Garden Supply (http://nnw.fm/yo2jF) and an investment in Convectium (http://nnw.fm/2GuZ5).
Now, SinglePoint believes it has found a way to apply bitcoin technology to provide customers with a seamless payment experience at cannabis dispensaries when using their credit or debit cards. The company’s end goal is to provide a bitcoin payment solution that can be easily implemented in any point-of-sale machine through a simple application download.
In collaboration with First Bitcoin Capital, SinglePoint will seek out and identify opportunities to apply its payment technology expertise to develop a proprietary solution for high-risk verticals like the cannabis industry.
“In January 2014 SinglePoint announced (http://nnw.fm/ATUj1) and started working on a bitcoin payment solution, shortly after we recognized the issue of minimal user adoption of digital currency. The payments industry has rapidly changed since that time. There is now tremendous momentum and demand for bitcoin acceptance as an alternative form of payment. This Joint Venture with First Bitcoin Capital is perfect timing. Bitcoin payments are catching on and cannabis dispensaries need a solution fast,” SinglePoint CEO Greg Lambrecht stated in a press release (http://nnw.fm/d1ewJ) announcing the bitcoin initiatives.
SinglePoint has already been successful in completing technology integrations with companies like Twilio, RedFynn and IATS and with major carriers like ATT, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint. This has enabled SinglePoint to offer its text message marketing and text-based payment solutions, and the company said it now intends to utilize these successful integrations in developing its bitcoin payments technology—doing so either independently or with a well-qualified development partner.
While SinglePoint appears to be the frontrunner in applying digital currency solutions to the cannabis industry, other publicly traded companies have also recognized the game-changing opportunities offered by bitcoin technology. An early mover within the blockchain and digital currency ecosystems, BTCS, Inc. (BTCS) has been recognized as the first “pure play” public company in the U.S. to focus on blockchain technologies, which are the technologies that underpin bitcoin digital currency.
Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) is another digital currency play. Recently named to OTC Markets Group’s “OTCQX Best 50” for 2017, Bitcoin Investment Trust is a U.S.-based, open-ended grantor trust sponsored by Grayscale Investments that is invested exclusively in bitcoin. Its shares are the first publicly quoted securities that are solely invested in and deriving value from the price of bitcoin. This enables investors to gain exposure to bitcoin’s price movement through a traditional investment vehicle, sidestepping the challenges of buying, storing and safekeeping bitcoins.
As previously noted, a swelling number of companies – ranging from technology, travel and bookstores to restaurants, individual retailers and gaming sites – have started accepting digital currency for payments. Names like Dish Network, Shopify, Mint.com, Whole Foods and Expedia might ring a bell.
Social games giant Zynga (ZNGA), creator of popular evergreen franchises like FarmVille and Words with Friends, has also climbed aboard the bitcoin bandwagon, and it has been accepting bitcoins as a form of payment for in-game purchases since 2014.
Another is Square (SQ), a major provider of business tools that enable sellers of all sizes to start, run and grow their businesses. Square also began pioneering bitcoin solutions back in 2014, announcing an intention to build a register that would allow companies to accept bitcoin and Apple Pay. You might recognize Square as the creator of the small white credit card reader used by many individual retailers, restaurants and other merchants.
As the use and acceptance of bitcoin becomes ever more widespread, with the demand for digital convenience and payment capabilities serving as a powerful catalyst, its potential as a financial transaction solution for the cannabis industry is quite promising. Until the cannabis industry becomes bankable in the U.S., an easy-to-deploy and simple-to-use means of accepting bitcoin payment could be the golden ticket for which marijuana dispensaries and other cannabis businesses have been waiting.
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