Tony Repanich, president and chief operating officer of Shield Compliance, joins Tom Bengtson, president of NFR Communications and publisher of BankBeat magazine and BankBeat.biz, for an interview about the challenges and opportunities of banking the cannabis industry.
While legislation legalizing cannabis at the federal level is currently stalled, passage of such a law is a matter of “when” not “if”, Repanich said. Banks considering the possibility of offering banking services to cannabis businesses don’t need to wait for it, however, and early adopters of this customer base could see advantages over those who wait for the certainties that legalization will bring. “Those [cannabis industry] dollars still want to find their way into the legal banking system,” he said.
The illicit cannabis market currently represents the bulk of industry dollars, but that will change rapidly over the next few years. Banks which get into the business now can position themselves as experts helping their clients navigate compliance and risk issues.
“These are legally operating businesses, paying a huge amount of taxes, and they deserve access to banking services,” Repanich said. “These are not stoner-owners. … They’re building a whole new industry.”