DENVER (MainStreet) — A Kansas City, Mo.-based software company has come up with a way to enable marijuana dispensaries to do business with banks.
Agrisoft Development Group is beta testing kiosks in a dispensary in Northglenn, Colo. that will allow customers to order and pay for weed, then have armored vehicles pick up the cash and deliver it to banks. The company also provides seed-to-sale tracking software to help its customer comply with Colorado laws.
When arriving at a dispensary, a patient or retail client scrolls through a list of products, including photos and pricing, inserts his identification card and feeds cash into a bill acceptor, which will provide change if needed. Customers also have the option of using a debit card.
The kiosk verifies payment and identification before printing out a receipt for the customer to take to the counter to get the product. At the end of the day, an armored truck service picks up the cash from the kiosk and delivers it directly to the dispensary’s bank.
“We are the only complete end-to-end solution from when the plant is cloned to POS [point of sale],” said Charles Ramsey, Agrisoft’s CEO. “That allows the bank to feel comfortable taking the cash.”
Agrisoft Development Group has installed the first two kiosks in a dispensary in Northglenn for beta testing. It expects it will take banks about 60 days to determine whether the process works. It’s currently working with banks in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Illinois and Nevada.
Agrisoft’s not-so-secret weapon to gain marketshare is Matt Cook, one of the authors of Colorado’s medical marijuana regulations and former senior director of enforcement at the state’s Department of Revenue.
“Every bank we have dealt with has given us an exclusive arrangement,” Ramsey said. “We have had banks say they won’t do it unless Matt supports it.”
The goal, Ramsey said, is to be the leading company in the cannabis software industry within the next year. It plans to acquire other companies or simply put them out of business, he said.
The kiosk system is such a competitive advantage that Agrisoft is offering one year of free service to lure customers away from MJ Freeway and BioTrackTHC, the two biggest players in the marijuana software industry.
“You can have a client who loves MJ Freeway, and we can say ‘We’re going to give you a bank,’” Ramsey said. “The bank trumps all. They don’t even think about it.”
Founded by Jessica Billingsley and Amy Poinsett in 2010, MJ Freeway has about 1,000 licenses issued to dispensaries in 17 states, the District of Columbia and Europe. It offers a variety of packages that track a dispensary’s activities from seed to sale, as required by Colorado law. The cost ranges from $149 to $299 a month.
“We compete very well,” said Billingsley, the company’s chief operating officer. “Cannabis is a hot, growing, booming industry. We’re very fortunate to have a head start. We were the first in the space, and we are patent pending.”
One of the biggest challenges facing marijuana software companies is navigating the widely differing regulations in each state MJ Freeway serves. Some states allow dispensaries’ software to connect into their systems, while others do not. Colorado permits a daily upload, and Washington is now rolling out a system that enables a more integrated connection with dispensaries. But Arizona doesn’t allow any connection at all.
“We guarantee we’ll meet any tracking requirement for cannabis in any state,” said Poinsett, MJ Freeway’s CEO. “New regulations come into play, new models are considered. We have someone on our team who’s paying attention to that.”
The stiff competition in the software industry doesn’t seem to be stopping new players from entering the market. Colorado Springs-based AMK Tech Ltd., a 12-year-old company that builds custom databases for its clients, recently launched LeafyPro -- an integrated platform that automatically updates changes a user makes across the database.
The LeafyPro software was built to operate on Apple products, though it works just as well on PCs. However, building it for Apple products enables dispensaries to operate much like an Apple store, allowing budtenders to be mobile and scan barcodes using the iPad’s cameras. LeafyPro’s current pricing model is $500 a month for up to ten devices.
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“It changes the paradigm for how we think about retail,” said Drew Cerino, project manager with LeafyPro. “An Apple store doesn’t have counters where you cue up and check out. It has people moving around and being social with you. It reinvents the way a dispensary is doing retail.”
--Written by Margaret Jackson for MainStreet