January 17, 2020

Six alternatives to cash for cannabis transactions

What are the options for buyers and dispensaries in a cash driven business?
Written by
Cassie Thielen
Published on
January 17, 2020

One of the biggest challenges the cannabis industry still faces is banking restrictions. Because cannabis currently remains federally illegal, federally chartered banks and credit card companies still do not provide services or accept money relating to legitimate marijuana businesses.

While this may instinctively have people continue using cash, there are alternatives buyers can use to purchase cannabis that may suit them better. 

Here are six alternatives to cash that have been utilized by both dispensaries and consumers.


PayQwick is a money service business that’s licensed as a money transmitter. Though it is federally registered, it can be linked to a credit card, debit card, or bank account, while still allowing individuals to pay anonymously. PayQwick is designed for cash intensive businesses like dispensaries, so it’s meant to create secure payments without the need for cash, benefiting both the customer and cannabis stores. 


Shift is a credit card processing system designed specifically for small businesses, and in this case, dispensaries. Shift markets itself on offering zero processing fees. Instead, it charges consumers a small service fee with their purchase. It lowers the riskiness of having too much cash on hand, while encouraging customers to still safely use their credit and debit cards and making the cannabis purchases as easy as possible. 


CanPay is a debit payment mobile app that can be linked to a checking account. The app was created for the use of dispensaries as well as other emerging markets that banks are unwilling to have their credit cards used in. It may be a preferable option for costumers because there aren’t any convenience fees as with private credit card processing systems. CanPay can only be used at approved CanPay retailers, however more and more dispensaries are picking it up because of its convenience. 


Hypur works with local banks and credit unions to help them compliantly bank cannabis businesses using Hypur’s technology. Hypur also provides a payment processing solution to cannabis businesses that eliminates the risks and hassles of cash. Consumers are able to purchase cannabis electronically through Hypur’s secure, easy-to-use mobile application that can be downloaded in the app store. Once signed-up, consumers will be able to transfer money from their account directly into the merchant’s bank. There are no sign-up fees or transaction fees for consumers. Because Hypur works directly with banks, dispensaries and consumers don’t have to rely on a work-around payment solution.

Pre-paid cards 

Pre-paid cards options allow customers to determine how much they will want to spend and then load money from their bank accounts on to a card or app (depending on what the dispensary chooses to use). These cards act as a middleman between the bank and the dispensary, as the money loaded onto pre-paid cards sits there until it is eventually spent and transferred to the merchant. It can be considered like having a dispensary gift card that the customers load themselves.  

Point of banking

Point of banking systems operate like a “Cashless ATM” where the countertop credit card terminal acts as an ATM. To fully mimic the actions of an ATM, there is always cash back with purchases, as well as a withdrawal fee. Though this option may be the preferred choice for dispensaries (to not have too much cash on hand), it may not be preferable to customers, as it may appear too similar to just taking cash out of the ATM (since there is always cash back). 

Even though purchasing cannabis usually do not have the convenience of pulling out a traditional credit or debit card to pay, it is apparent that there are a lot of new options for consumers to be able to pay.

While some people may in fact still prefer cash, dispensaries can still have the option to create non-cash revenue with these payment options. Each payment plan though will remain at the discretion of the dispensary and their valued customers. 

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