Do Cash­less ATMS Help Pot Sales?

One op­tion for le­gal dis­pen­saries is the cash­less ATM, which mim­ics the process of pay­ing by debit card. But are the fees and the ex­tra steps worth it?

ISO & Agent - - HIGH RISK | PROCESSING - BY SARAH WYNN

World of Weed’s cash­less ATM sur­vived only a week at its store in Ta­coma, Wash. The cash­less ATM — which sim­u­lates a debit card pay­ment by let­ting con­sumers ini­ti­ate a cash with­drawal, then di­rects those funds to the mer­chant — is meant to make it eas­ier for le­gal dis­pen­saries and other high-risk stores to ac­cept card pay­ments.

But for Alden Linn, owner of World of Weed, it be­came a has­sle.

“Hav­ing ex­tra de­vices at the cash­wrap took up valu­able sales space,” Linn wrote in an email. “The time to check out was longer be­cause of the miss­ing in­te­gra­tion with the POS. Lastly, the fees be­ing charged at the cash­wrap caused push­back from cus­tomers.”

With­out in­te­grat­ing with the store’s point of sale sys­tems, the process takes longer than a nor­mal credit or debit card trans­ac­tion — and the cus­tomer is charged a fee of about two dol­lars for the ex­pe­ri­ence.

The store’s web­site now promi­nently states that it is “a cash-only es­tab­lish­ment.”

The Joint, which also has a lo­ca­tion in Ta­coma, has also ex­pe­ri­enced some chal­lenges with cash­less ATMS, but it hasn’t pulled the plug.

“It’s kind of a com­pli­cated process, there’s a lot of steps as an em­ployee, there’s a lot of but­tons that you have to push,” said Eben Shay, an em­ployee at The Joint.

How­ever, Shay noted that more and more of his cus­tomers are us­ing the store’s month-old cash­less ATM, and that The Joint is get­ting more busi­ness be­cause of it.

“It was just more ways to ac­cept money, which just means more busi­ness for us,” Shay said. “I wouldn’t say the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple use the cash­less ma­chine, but we have seen an in­crease week by week.”

Nei­ther World of Weed nor The Joint iden­ti­fied the man­u­fac­turer of their cash­less ATMS.

Cash­less ATMS are among the more com­monly pitched com­pro­mises for high-risk mer­chants, which can’t han­dle pay­ment cards nor­mally be­cause banks don’t want to part­ner with them.

Sam Ditzion, CEO of Tre­mont Cap­i­tal Group, which pro­vides con­sult­ing to ATM and pay­ments com­pa­nies, said the le­gal pot in­dus­try is in a reg­u­la­tory gray area be­cause of in­con­sis­ten­cies be­tween state and fed­eral laws. Most banks don’t have any in­ter­est in be­com­ing test cases for this mar­ket’s le­git­i­macy, par­tic­u­larly since they risk heavy fines and other li­a­bil­i­ties.

“It’s very stress­ful and frus­trat­ing for these dis­pen­sary own­ers be­cause they need to move a lot of cash around and ... they don’t re­ally have a so­lu­tion that works well,” Ditzion said.

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