Banks who have been lending to Canadian cannabis businesses have done so on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” basis. And, although the number of banks that will work with marijuana companies is starting to make news, the majority still don’t. There’s undoubtedly a cash problem in the cannabis trade that stems from its prohibition, but is cryptocurrency the solution and what would it mean for the future of the Canadian cannabis industry?
Experts say the cannabis industry could be a front-runner in adopting bitcoin as a safer alternative to cash and companies like Toronto-based CannaSOS Corp are hoping this hunch is right. Their signature cryptocurrency, PerksCoin Tokens, is being marketed as the future of buying and selling legal marijuana. A combination of Bitcoin and PayPal, it guards currency with encrypted blockchain technology and allows transactions to happen safely in a matter of seconds. Funds can change hands within an online network of medical cannabis providers, producers, doctors, dispensaries, and consumers. Users of the crypto-coins can trade them or convert them into cash using services such as PayPal or through debit cards.
IBM is another blockchain-happy company, but they want to use the technology—provided by them, of course— to track cannabis supplies as they move up the supply chain from farm to distributor to retailer to consumers.
Both plans sound great, but the entire idea of the cannabis industry relying on this strange new frontier in money is stirring up skepticism from the cannabis industry itself. Cryptocurrencies may offer convenience and some extent of anonymity but, ultimately, so does cash. In the words of Aurora Cannabis’ Cam Battley, “…the cannabis business in Canada does not need a cryptocurrency because business is working extremely smoothly with regular currency.”