Cannabis Companies Are Digging Deeper Into Fintech

LeafLink is diving deeper into the world of payments. It’s an area that has bedeviled the industry as the large banks and credit card companies won’t work with the cannabis industry. LeafLink is mostly known for its wholesale cannabis platform, but now its expanded its payments suite to include Direct Payments for customers in six states. LeafLink’s Direct Payments solution is now in Colorado, California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Nevada.

LeafLink also noted that in addition to its Direct Payments offering, it is also launching a new digital onboarding journey for all users, which verifies and approves the company for LeafLink Payments in real-time.

“Between Direct and Flexible Payments solutions, LeafLink offers a range of holistic digital payments and purchase financing services that simplifies cannabis business operations,” said Ryan G. Smith, CEO and Co-Founder of LeafLink. “Our Direct Payments service gives cannabis operators a seamless, simple and intuitive way to manage digital transactions. The LeafLink team is excited to offer such a necessary solution to our customers across six states and hopes to help more cannabis businesses realize their growth goals in the future.”

LeafLink’ said its Direct Payments solution addresses operational pain points experienced by buyers and sellers who rely on cash transactions, allowing them to seamlessly send and receive compliant ACH payments. For buyers, Direct Payments enable businesses to effectively manage cash flow by eliminating the uncertainty of mailing and clearing checks. Sellers, on the other hand, can leverage Direct Payments to digitize manual cash collections, lower transaction costs, and expedite time-to-cash timelines. Complimentary for all LeafLink customers until next year, the service allows brands and retailers to save time, secure their payments, and centralize their transaction process within the LeafLink platform.

“LeafLink is in a unique position because we are solving for an industry that is very under-served. Whatever side of the equation you’re on in the B2B cannabis space, our goal is to fast-track your growth and efficiently give you the funds that you need. Part of being able to do that is offering a seamless onboarding experience for our customers,” said Harish Mukhami, Senior Vice President of Product for LeafLink. “I expect this will drastically shift the way cannabis operators view digital payments, which haven’t been widely adopted by the industry due to the cumbersome and manual nature of getting started. We’ve addressed that gap and are reducing that friction entirely so that customers can start transacting almost immediately.”

According to Crunchbase, LeafLink has raised a total of $379M in funding over 7 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Jul 21, 2021 from a Series C round. LeafLink has a post-money valuation in the range of $1B to $10B as of Jul 21, 2021, according to PrivCo. LeafLink has stated that it is backed by leading venture capital firms and strategic investors, including Founders Fund, Thrive Capital, Nosara Capital, and Lerer Hippeau, LeafLink says it has raised more than $131 million of equity to date as well as a $250 million credit facility to provide liquidity to the cannabis supply chain.

Bespoke Financial

Bespoke Financial also recently announced an integrated partnership with BLAZE Solutions, a leading cannabis technology company. The partnership establishes an embedded lending product providing cannabis retailers access to Bespoke’s financing at the click of a button within BLAZE’s Dispensary POS software. The move would allow dispensaries easy access to funds for vendor payments, the financing program will boost retailers’ ability to make timely payments that trickle up the supply chain, operate at a larger scale to increase profitability, and carry an assortment of brands to keep a competitive edge.

BLAZE said its clients can opt-in through the POS to see qualifying options for  Bespoke’s dispensary financing, which allows access to 60-day repayment terms on all vendor payments. Qualifying retailers can finance purchase orders to vendors seamlessly in the platform similar to a B2B  buy now, pay later option. The ability to pay vendors directly from within the BLAZE platform via Bespoke’s financing will also minimize dispensaries’ reliance on cash transactions. Dispensary financing is currently in beta testing with a select group of operators and a broader launch coming later this year.

Bespoke’s team of fintech and cannabis experts are providing working capital that helps businesses increase purchasing power and accelerate profitability in a fast-growing industry,” said BLAZE CEO, Chris Violas. “ At this momentous time for cannabis technology, BLAZE is proud to offer the dispensary financing program and build advanced digital solutions that strengthen the cannabis supply chain.”

BLAZE’s clients can now opt-in through the POS to see qualifying options for  Bespoke’s dispensary financing, which allows access to 60-day repayment terms on all vendor payments. Qualifying retailers can finance purchase orders to vendors seamlessly in the platform similar to a B2B  buy now, pay later option. The ability to pay vendors directly from within the BLAZE platform via Bespoke’s financing will also minimize dispensaries’ reliance on cash transactions. Dispensary financing is currently in beta testing with a select group of operators and a broader launch coming later this year.

“BLAZE is the most prominently utilized POS in California, serving approximately a quarter of licensed cannabis retailers. Through this partnership, the new dispensary financing program expands our footprint into California and Massachusetts, two of the most established cannabis retail markets on each coast, respectively,” said George Mancheril, Founder and CEO of Bespoke Financial. “This new forward-thinking lending product combines accessible, scalable financing with an industry-leading POS platform.”

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.


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