Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, so far cannabis businesses and the U.S. financial services industry — banks, payments, insurance, retirement services, etc. — haven’t been better together.
For years, they have been hesitant to interact. From the cannabis perspective, financial services (FS) haven’t provided access to competitively priced loans, lines of credit, cash management, and other services essential to business management and growth.
From the financial services’ perspective, the lack of industry regulation and cash-only business models make cannabis-related businesses (CRBs) high risk, as are other emerging industries. However, with nationwide cannabis legalization on the horizon, there is an opportunity for profitable change.
A new alliance by the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) and Emerging Markets Coalition (EMC) is leveraging this opportunity by forging trusted relationships between the two industries.
There’s already plenty of common ground: NACB is a membership organization shaping the legal cannabis market into a safe, responsible, and ethical industry through education and advocacy; EMC is a member-driven advocacy and educational organization for financial services in highly cash-based and underserved markets.
The alliance is catalyzing new connections between CRBs and FS firms; most focused on compliance and transparency across all activities in both businesses.
The partnership creates a safe introduction zone where CRBs and FS firms know that those at the table are the cleanest, best-run businesses focused on best practices and high ethics — just the kind of incubator to get healthy relationships started.
NACB and EMC members are educating each other to drive toward full access to normalized financial services for the cannabis industry.
Recently, the alliance introduced Blazers & Blazers, a new monthly interactive cannabis banking series opening the lines of communication between cannabis professionals and financial services experts.
In addition, the alliance is a positive, fact-based source of information and action for government, media, consumer advocate groups, and community organizations.
“In this industry, there is a flood of information but a desert of facts,” says Kirsten Trusko, CEO and co-founder of EMC. “Our organizations are planting this desert with the seeds of fact from research and real-life business and banking organizations to help fuel a collective good in the lives of the owners, employees, customers, and communities who benefit from this industry.”
“If we don’t proactively craft our own narrative and action plan, others will do it for us,” adds Gina Kranwinkel, president and CEO of NACB. “We’re pushing for informed rulemaking by openly educating about our industries and how clean, transparent, compliant businesses operate for a greater good for both industries, for communities, and for society in general. Together, we’ll make our voices heard.”
Ironically, CRBs and FS firms share a similar challenge with federal and state regulators and examiners reminding them that a misstep can force devastating consequences for their organizations and themselves personally.
The NACB-EMC alliance is an opportunity for CRBs and FS firms to shape standards, ethics, and best practices to prevent missteps and define a better future for both industries. ϖ