In recent years, CBD payment processing has become a booming field. But why? In the next 2 years, experts expect the cannabis industry, CBD sales specifically, to create $16 billion in revenue. With such an influx of demand, online and in-person businesses have begun introducing CBD products into their inventory lineup. However, this can only be attained through a proper CBD payment gateway.
In recent years, governments have offered more leniency to the cannabis industry. Laws and regulations have adapted to the times with support from further medical research on the benefits that the plant can offer. Because federal and state policies have changed, it has created a whole new door for banks, payment processors, and CBD merchants to walk through.
Since President Donald Trump passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp/CBD products (with regulations), merchants have been on the hunt for payment processors that would work with their businesses in the sale of CBD goods.
If you are looking into the expansion of your business with the introduction of CBD products or if you are looking into digital CBD payment acceptance, this article should help give you vast insight into CBD payment options. This article should be able to help address any CBD payment processing concerns if you fall into any of the following categories:
- CBD payment processing for e-commerce
- CBD payment processing for small businesses
- CBD payment processing for retailers
- CBD payment processing for dispensaries
- CBD payment processing for wholesalers
- CBD payment processing for manufacturers
What is CBD?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol. It is a natural derivative of the cannabis plant. The cannabis sativa plant is the parent to both hemp and marijuana. The difference between the two is the amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Thus differentiating the products and usage of each one.
With less than 0.3% of THC and high amounts of CBD, hemp cannabis contains no psychoactive substance. Therefore, CBD from hemp is sought after for its health benefits with no psychotropic response after use.
Whereas marijuana cannabis contains high amounts of THC and low amounts of CBD. Therefore, it is psychoactive. Which means it is a mind-altering substance. Consumers use it medically and recreationally in smoke products or edibles.
The commonality between both, hemp and marijuana is that they both come from the cannabis plant, and they both contain some amount of CBD.
What is Hemp Used For?
Hemp has many uses. Not only is it used for its health benefits, but many industries use hemp for various materials and products.
- Body care products
- Material goods and supplies
- Paper goods
- Animal bedding
What Are the Benefits of CBD?
Consumers use hemp in a vast number of ways, for a variety of reasons. But more specifically, the CBD derived from the cannabis hemp plant has been scientifically proven to carry many health benefits to its users. CBD provides the following benefits:
- Appetite Control
- Asthma treatment
- Blood sugar control
- Bone density improvement
- Bone disease prevention
- Cancer Growth and side effects treatment
- Cardiovascular system strengthening
- Epilepsy and seizures treatment
- Glaucoma Therapy
- Intestine inflammation reduction
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome treatment
- Motor function improvement
- Pain management
- PTSD treatment
- Psychosis tranquilizer
- Restful sleep promotion
- Spasms/seizure reduction
- Stress regulation
- Substance abuse treatment
- And more…
How Do You Take CBD?
With all its benefits, manufacturers have created many products with CBD to disperse in many forms throughout or on the body.
Ways to take CBD:
Why is CBD Considered High Risk?
The cannabis industry and payment processing for CBD is considered high-risk for many reasons. Below is a list of common factors that could play into the resulting risk status of a merchant selling CBD:
- The nature of the products of the industry
- Highly regulated industry
- High transaction volumes
- Risky customers
- Sales to countries with high fraud rates
- International payments
- New CBD retail Merchants
Because CBD has become more accepted in the United States, consumer demand has increased. With an increase in demand, more payment processing companies have taken the necessary steps to gain bank privileges, allowing them to offer high-risk merchant accounts to process payments for CBD businesses.
What is a CBD Merchant Account?
A merchant account allows your business to accept digital payments, such as credit cards, debit cards, and ACH. No more “cash only” signs at the register. To sell CBD products, however, most merchants will need a high-risk CBD merchant account and an acceptable CBD payment gateway.
Credit card payment processing companies facilitate high-risk merchant accounts with their special bank privileges to process digital transactions for industries, merchants, and products that carry the risk of frequent chargebacks.
CBD Requires High-Risk Payment Processors
Although the 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp products, the strict regulations on CBD products remain. Laws surrounding CBD still vary from state to state. Thus, because of the heavy regulations, payment processors automatically categorize cannabis merchants as a high-risk industry.
Because of this, cannabis dispensaries and merchants that sell CBD products of any kind will need to locate a high-risk payment processor to facilitate their digital transactions, whether in-store or online.
High-risk payment processors are not difficult to find. There are options to choose from. Just keep in mind that high-risk payment processing does come at a price. To cover the cost of risky business, high-risk payment processors usually charge more than they would for low-risk merchants. Be sure to find a payment processor that can work within your budget and provide economical and efficient solutions that meet your needs.
How Do I Get a High-Risk CBD Merchant Account?
Typically, payment processors assess the risk of a merchant account after the merchant submits the application and documents. However, knowing you are applying for payment processing for CBD, you should automatically prepare yourself to work with a high-risk payment processor.
Because of this, setting up a CBD merchant account to start digital credit card payment processing starts with research. After you have done your homework on different payment processors that accept high-risk merchants and have the best fees and payment processing solutions, you can apply.
Next, when you apply, the credit card processing company will require you to submit official documentation for your business and personal information. This can include your business license, permits, tax information, bank statements, and more.
Lastly, your payment processor will run a credit check. Typically, this is a soft pull– which will not hinder your credit score. However, every company is different, and you will want to ask your provider how they check their merchant’s credit. Take note: the higher your credit score is, the higher the chances are for your approval.
Once you receive approval for a CBD merchant account, your payment processor will send your processing hardware and equipment and get you integrated with all the necessary software. However, you may not need hardware if you are only wanting CBD payment processing for online stores.
How Do I Accept Payments for CBD Products Online?
Obviously, with the vast amount of benefits CBD brings to the market, it has become a popular product among consumers. So, it’s imperative to offer as many payment options as you can for your clients. So, one way to add to your merchant account is to offer CBD e-commerce payment processing.
CBD online payment processing could be an addition to your brick-and-mortar store, or it could be an eCommerce business on its own. Either way, you will need to set up a CBD payment gateway online through your high-risk payment processor. Most are equipped to integrate their services right into your website.
Can I Use My Regular Payment Processor for CBD Products?
If you already have a merchant account with a payment processor and are looking to expand your products with CBD, it may be possible to continue with your current payment processing company.
However, you would need to inform them of your updated retail products and possibly re-app with the new information. Should you fail to do this, your contract will be breached, and your merchant account may be terminated.
However, most payment processing companies do not offer high-risk payment processing. CBD sales are unique, and most processors view this industry as high-risk. If your current provider does not process high-risk payments, you will need to do some research for one who does and apply for a new CBD merchant account with them.
Additionally, you may need to speak with your bank to be sure they can fund merchant bank accounts that are in the CBD business.
What to Look For in a High-Risk CBD Merchant Account Provider
In the next 5 years, the cannabidiol (CBD) industry is estimated to grow by almost 10 times its current value. With such a substantial growth projection, merchants are scrambling to locate a payment processor that can handle their high-risk transactions. Making it easy to sell this ever-increasingly popular product to demanding clients.
But just because more processors are offering high-risk services does not mean they are all created equal. When applying to a high-risk payment processor, look for the following criteria:
As previously mentioned, as a merchant selling CBD, it’s critical that your payment processing company is equipped to handle high-risk transactions. Now, keep in mind there are payment processors who can handle both low and high-risk transactions. You do not need to find a processor that is high-risk specific, but it is recommended to find one that is knowledgeable about the high-risk sector.
High-risk, capable payment processors are equipped to handle merchants who may be prone to frequent fraud and chargebacks. One of the concerns banks have with the ambivalent CBD market clients.
Next, you want to be sure your payment processor has easy integration solutions with your existing platform, software, website, and/or POS system.
Nothing is more frustrating than having to reconfigure your entire business flow. From what software you use to how you operate. Changing how your business is run takes time, effort, and a lot of headaches. In fact, changing the way you do business could potentially affect your customer relationships.
Finding a payment solution with seamless integration is the best way to go. You will want to find a merchant service provider that offers seamless API integration. API payment gateways offer streamlined business solutions and easy transaction management.
POS System Options
POS systems are the motherboard of an entire business operation. From accepting card-present and card-not-present transitions to managing employees and customers to taking inventory of stock, POS systems create a streamlined business operation.
POS systems can help cut costs on additional administrative software and personnel. It also reduces time-sucking manual tasks needed for your day-to-day operations. Some merchant service providers, like ECS, offer full-service solutions from POS systems, payment terminals, and all your software and payment processing needs.
It is recommended to find yourself a payment solution provider that can be your one-stop shop for anything and everything you need to process all your customer transactions.
As a business owner, you know the number one priority is making money. But also, as most know, it costs money to run a business. So one key concept you want to be sure you address is, are your business expenses worth the profit margin you are making?
A large business expense is paying fees to process your credit and debit transactions. So, you want to be sure those payment solutions are worth the cost associated with them. When selecting your merchant service provider, be sure to research all the fees associated with your merchant account. Such fees you may incur could include:
- Interchange fees
- Transaction fees (including authorizations and returns)
- Batch fees
- Monthly statement fees
- Monthly minimums
- PCI compliance fees
- PCI non-compliance fees
- Hardware or terminal fees
- Annual fees
- Chargeback fees
- Set up fees
- Subscription fees
- Software fees
- Card brand fees
- Network fees
- Integration fees
- Early termination fees
Now, on top of all the fees you will want to look out for, it is important to note that these fees can be charged in 1 of 3 payment structures to merchants. The three payment structures include flat-rate pricing, tiered pricing, and interchange plus pricing. Certain pricing structures benefit different businesses more than others.
However, that would all depend on what your transaction averages are. Speaking to different providers about which pricing options they offer and what that would look like for your businesses can better help you determine which option would work best for your CBD business.
But the bottom line is, that high-risk merchant accounts will always be charged higher fees compared to low-risk accounts.
Additionally, as a high-risk merchant, be aware that certain payment processors may put your merchant account on reserve. A reserve keeps a portion of your payments per batch and releases that percentage over time. This reduces the financial consequences the processor may incur with a high-risk merchant.
Moreover, be weary of payment processors that charge a fee upfront, even before processing. At ECS, there are no upfront fees. Your application will be reviewed, and your risk level and cost will be assessed accordingly.
The above criteria mentioned early termination fees. These are very popular among payment processors. So one thing you want to be sure of is that you either select a merchant service provider with no early termination fee (ETF) or choose one with the best reputation and most economical pricing. This way, you will be sure you know you will be with them for the entirety of your contract.
One thing to always remember is that life is uncertain. So if life throws a curve ball your way and you can no longer stay in business for whatever reason, you want to be sure you will not be charged a hefty cancellation fee for ending your services early.
Not all merchant service companies will enforce a contract to do business. Some work on month-to-month payments. But if you do choose a processor with a contract, be sure to look it over in depth because not all contacts are the same.
Keep in mind fees and clauses may differ. Be sure you feel good about the stipulations and the benefits the processing company will bring to your CBD business.
Finally, your merchant service provider should offer accessible client support. Not only accessible, but you also want to be sure you receive excellent customer service. When issues arise, such as chargebacks, possible fraud, broken terminals, missing batches, etc, you want to be sure you can speak to a customer support representative immediately.
ECS offers personalized customer service for all our merchants. Once you are approved for a CBD merchant account, ECS’s in-house client success team will ensure your account is set up accordingly and that you understand how to use your payment terminal(s) and/or CBD payment gateway, including access to your exclusive online reporting portal.
Next, its in-house merchant services & technical support teams answer every call within 45 seconds or less. Every email is answered within the hour to respond to any inquiry you may have with your payment processing account or equipment.
Last, ECS’s in-house risk team monitors every credit card transaction to keep your account safe and secure.
How a High-Risk CBD Payment Processor Can Benefit Your Business
There are so many benefits to processing with the right high-risk payment processor for your CBD business. Below are a few key criteria that the right merchant service company should provide for you.
Offer More Payment Options to Customers
According to recent polls, 2023 statistics point out that nearly half of the US population prefers to shop online. In most cases with online transactions, a debit or credit card is needed to complete the purchase. The only way to accept debit or credit cards for payments is to work with a payment processor for your CBD sales.
When you offer shopping experience alternatives and a variety of payment solutions, your customers have their pick in how and where they get to shop. These options can include:
- In-store shopping
- Online shopping
- Debit cards
- Credit cards
- Gift cards
- Buy-now-pay-later platforms
With more ways to pay and an extensive product inventory, CBD sales can greatly increase your overall sales and profits. It’s one thing to offer diverse products for your customers, but it’s another thing entirely to sell those products in-store and online with no boundary to how you can take payment for the sale.
Attentive Customer Service
The right high-risk CBD payment processor can offer you exceptional support and education
when it comes to processing your digital payments, settling batches, and securing your transactions with fraud prevention measures online.
Tips on How To Get Your CBD Business Approved For A Merchant Account
The CBD industry faces a ton of competition. On the same note, so do payment processors. But with choice at hand, you’ve now learned what to look for in a payment processor for your CBD business. And with that under your belt, following the below guidelines will provide you with an edge to get approved faster.
Comply with Laws and Regulations
First and foremost, with any business, you must make sure you are in compliance with any and all state and federal laws and regulations. CBD merchants even more so. Though federally legal, each state has individual regulations regarding the sale and use of cannabis products. If you are unsure of your local regulations, contact your state legislature for detailed information.
Once you are all set with all the legalities concerning your business, be sure to have your documentation readily available. Your application to your payment processor of choice will require these documents to be submitted.
Maintain a Healthy Credit Score
It is of the utmost importance to have a healthy credit score when it comes to approval for a merchant account. A healthy credit score makes a positive impression on your application, which can get you approved faster. Additionally, it can prompt payment processors to offer you benefits like lower fees or no rolling reserve on your contract. If you do not have a positive credit score, there are still ways to obtain a merchant account.
Keep in mind there are a few items that can negatively impact your credit score significantly. Be sure you are avoiding:
- Missed payments
- Late payments
- Overdraft fees
- Lack of credit history
If you need to build your credit history or work on your credit score, focus on making payments on all credit cards on time and in full. Maintaining a steady flow of revolving credit will also help. If you do not have any credit under your belt, we suggest looking into opening a business credit card or looking into merchant financing to build your credit.
Maintain Stable Sales Volumes
Merchants who have stable sales, good profit margins, and regular hours of operation are more credible to payment processors. To do this successfully, you must make sure your products have enough customer demand. If you are unable to show significant demand for what your business is offering, a payment processing company may not take your application seriously and decide against investing in your business.
Do Your Research On Different Payment Providers
One of the best things you can do once you are ready to apply for a merchant account is research different high-risk payment processors. If you can compare and contrast different rates, solutions, and stipulations with each, you have the ball in your court. Meaning, that you may be able to negotiate rates and fees with the processor of your choice when you prove price comparisons with their competitors.
Educate Yourself About The CBD Industry
The last one seems like a no-brainer. But you should be sure you are well educated on the industry you are representing. Though it may not necessarily help get you approved for your merchant account, education on the CBD industry can help you in all areas in the long run of your business.
The CBD market is still relatively new. And though it has many proven health benefits, it still suffers excessive government regulation plus heavy doses of skepticism. Knowing the products you offer can save you from any future conflicts or long-term investment decisions you may need to make.
Why Choose ECS to Process Payments For Your CBD Business?
At ECS, we understand that every business is unique and has different needs. That’s why we offer high-risk payment processing services tailored to meet the specific requirements of each one of our merchants.
With our high-risk payment processing, you will be able to accept payment with debit, credit, ACH, and more. Plus, you can expect the following benefits:
- Advanced fraud prevention and detection measures
- Secure transactions
- Competitive rates
- Flexible contract terms
- Seamless integration
- POS and terminal options
- World-class merchant support
CBD Payment Processing Wrap-Up
Whatever your business model, it is imperative to choose a high-risk CBD credit card processing provider that will meet all of your operational and economic needs. Consider one who knows how to navigate their way through data security, fraud prevention, chargeback management, and regulatory requirements within the CBD industry.
With this in mind, remember to do your research on different payment processors, have your business ready to present the required documents, and support your legitimacy with healthy credit and sales records. From there, you will have the ability to inquire with different companies about how they can customize affordable packages for you to meet your unique business needs.