Square, the payment processing platform widely known for its ubiquitous card readers, is entering Canada’s cannabis market. On Wednesday morning, the company announced a partnership with Jane Technologies, an online ordering service that allows customers to purchase marijuana for delivery or store pickup. In addition to its deal with Jane, Square is also opening an
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Square, the payment processing platform widely known for its ubiquitous card readers, is entering Canada’s cannabis market. On Wednesday morning, the company announced a partnership with Jane Technologies, an online ordering service that allows customers to purchase marijuana for delivery or store pickup.
In addition to its deal with Jane, Square is also opening an early access program for licensed dispensaries in Canada “which allows authorized cannabis sellers in Ontario to begin testing the Square for Retail point of sale (POS) solution in stores ahead of being launched more widely,” the company said in press release.
Beyond accepting payments, Square’s new offerings to cannabis clients include real-time inventory tracking across multiple store locations as well as compliance alerts if an order exceeds Canada’s purchasing limits on marijuana products.
“We’re always looking to solve sellers’ pain points and we know cannabis dispensaries have limited options when it comes to reliable and integrated commerce tools,” said Roshan Jhunja, head of retail at Square, adding that sellers “are looking for an easy-to-use, fully integrated omnichannel solution to help them run their businesses in person and online.”
The entry of a popular, mainstream payment processor and POS provider could put pressure on competitors already in the cannabis space. Many are relatively small compared to more traditional financial services and specialize in working with marijuana and other regulated businesses.
“Square’s reputation as a leading global commerce platform speaks for itself,” said Socrates Rosenfeld, CEO of Jane Technologies. “Given our shared ethos of empowering brick-and-mortar retailers with best-in-class digital tools, the partnership with Jane developed naturally.”
Jane says it powers more than 2,500 retailers and brands across 39 U.S. states and Canada.
In the United States, many cannabis companies are not able to accept card payments for marijuana purchases because marijuana remains federally illegal. Banks risk liability and possible legal penalties for servicing illegal businesses, which has led most to avoid working with the industry. The situation has led some companies to come up with questionable workarounds, such as the use of “cashless ATMs” that miscode cannabis sales as simple cash withdrawals.
In Maryland, a state official who was discussing cannabis tax revenue said recently that “in order to protect the banks, we can’t even call this cannabis on the tax return.” The admission drew criticism from a prohibitionist group that accused Maryland of protecting “banks who are breaking federal law,” but both the state and its bank, Wells Fargo, have said the transactions complied with applicable laws and regulations.
A vote on congressional legislation to allow banks to work with cannabis businesses more easily is set to be held next week. A coalition of 35 cannabis trade associations, drug policy reform groups and a top national labor union sent a letter on Tuesday calling on Congress to help address the “humanitarian toll” of robberies targeting cash-intensive marijuana businesses by passing the banking bill “this year.”
Despite ongoing obstacles to banking marijuana businesses, Square has worked with CBD companies since 2019. In May of that year, Square launched an invite-only pilot program to offer services CBD sellers in May of that year, and the company expanded the program the following October.
Photo courtesy of Rick Proctor.