CPS – Does Authorize.net Work with CBD?

Eric Ives
By Eric Ives
October 14, 2019

As cannabis becomes increasingly more popular and legalized across the United States, opportunities to provide quality cannabis-derived products will expand….

As cannabis becomes increasingly more popular and legalized across the United States, opportunities to provide quality cannabis-derived products will expand. This expansion will translate into a multi-billion dollar business before the year 2021. According to financial experts, those seeking to become part of this growing venture may find a unique niche that may serve them well in the next decade. As the government continues to ease restrictions on marijuana, potential business owners can look forward to an array of market choices. However, at this present time, selling products derived from marijuana or hemp has distinct challenges.

Not only must you observe the laws of your particular state, but if you’re selling certain products across the nation, you must be aware of what can and cannot travel across state lines. You must also stay informed about what is restricted federally. For example, although hemp-derived CBD has been legalized since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, marijuana-derived CBD is still classified as an illegal substance. Once you know the difference between what you can and can’t sell, how you can sell and where, you can face an additional set of obstacles.

Just like any other business, you must find a reliable bank that will be able to give you the security you need to house your funds. CBD is widely considered to be a high-risk product. As a consequence, many banks aren’t as friendly towards CBD merchants, and finding the right bank that will allow you to deposit, withdraw and work with your website can be daunting. However, it isn’t impossible, and many are beginning to find that they can have a thriving relationship with their financial institution. With that said, once you’ve found a bank that you can work with, the next step is to set up a merchant account with a payment processor.

It is essential for you to have a payment processor to process payments online. Having a processor that is reliable, safe and fast is a great way to retain customers and garner new ones. However, many payment processors are reluctant to work with CBD retailers due to the current legal climate. If you begin searching for a processor, one option you may run into is authorize.net. It’s a go-to merchant payment processor for many small businesses. If you’re wondering if you should go through the trouble of setting up an account, we’ve done a bit of research on if this particular company will work with CBD merchants, the pros and cons, and what you may expect as a customer.

Don’t Hide Your Business Model

If you’re thinking it’s easier to say you’re selling beauty products or deodorant without mentioning anything about CBD, you’re in for a tough road ahead. Hiding your CBD-related expenses, sales and transactions is a way to get found out and booted for good. Companies such as G2 Web Services make it their mission to go over transactions routinely made by businesses, and if you’re using misleading or deceptive language, you can be found out and placed on a list.

This may sound all very Orwellian, but the list is real. The MATCH list is the bane of every CBD retailer out there, and once you’re placed on the list, it is often difficult to find another bank and payment processor to work with you. The list’s initial purpose was to catch retailers involved in fraudulent activities such as laundering and the like, but today, that purpose has expanded to include watching how businesses present themselves to the general public. Placement on the list lasts for five years.

What is Authorize.Net?

Authorize.net is an American based company that services retail businesses as a payment gateway provider. This allows companies to quickly process credit card payments on any number of websites during a client checkout. This service is critical to the infrastructure of any business. By permitting customers to input credit card information online within the site (without having to go to another page), it allows customers to stay engaged enough to complete each transaction.

Authorize.net also offers other services for its customers, such as fraud protection and the option of a simplified checkout experience. They also allow the availability of these services over Android and iOS applications, a necessity in a world where most people purchase from their phones. Authorize.net has been described as one of the oldest and most secure payment processors in the industry.

Authorize.net is also considered a good option due to its interface. It has what is termed “API,” which stands for the Application Programmer’s Interface. This interface allows Authorize.net to easily act as an “interpreter,” and talk to the gateway for a credit card. It’s a malleable software application and allows for use across a wide variety of programming languages, including PHP, Perl, Cold Fusion and ASP.

Does Authorize.Net Work with CBD Retailers?

Authorize.net is the payment gateway processor that many people go to; however, it’s not exactly cut and dried, as some users and companies online insist that authorize.net does accept CBD merchants. Some sources state that although many payment gateway companies typically charge between 2 to 3 percent per transaction, Authorize.net may charge much more due to CBD being a “high-risk” commodity.

Consequently, retail CBD merchants could face a typical charge that is around 7%. The Authorize.net website states that its parent company, “MerchantAccountProviders.com has provided credit card processing solutions for companies from various industries since 1997. By offering quality service to the retail, restaurant, MOTO and high-risk industries, it has become one of the finest merchant account providers in the country.” It can be assumed that high-risk industries may also include CBD-related products.

Some CBD retailers have suggested that Authorize.net is the way to go as they seem the most open to CBD-based businesses. One of the biggest selling points with Authorize.net as a payment processor is that they offer 24/7 tech support.

What You Should Do?

There’s no sure-fire way to ensure that your CBD business won’t suffer the fate of some others. You may find that one day out of the blue your account has been frozen, and you are unable to operate. Though this may prove to be every business owner’s nightmare, especially those that offer CBD products, there may be a few ways you can ensure that your business can keep running.

First, keep abreast of all changes. The CBD landscape is always expanding and growing, so be sure to keep informed about major changes that may occur. What may be okay for your business one month can be revised or restricted the next. Try to establish an ongoing relationship and stay on top of any news that may affect your business, including state and federal legislation.

Another thing you can do is have a few other options handy. If you find that your account is no longer viable you may want to think ahead and have a few other payment processors ready to fall back on. Doing this can eliminate your business from being inoperable for any length of time.

Final Thoughts on Using Authorize.

Net for CBD Businesses CBD and the American legal system are undergoing a tenuous relationship. As attitudes continue to change, there’s no end to the various streams of legislative changes that are occurring. However, there’s no sign that the CBD industry is poised to stop or stall, and all signs indicate that it’s here to stay. Despite the changing political climate, CBD based businesses will have some difficulties finding reliable payment processors.

Payment processors are an essential part of any business in today’s world. Having a company that is safe, secure and efficient could mean the difference between your company clearing its earnings in the black or staying in the red. With that said, Authorize.net may stand as the premier option for your website for an easier company experience. However, there are some things you should keep in mind.

First, don’t think that omitting your true business goals or the nature of your products will make things simpler. If you’re found to be duplicitous about your company’s products, you may find yourself fighting more trouble than it’s worth. Being placed on a list may keep your company from operating with a payment processor for up to five years. In your application with Authorize.net, be sure to outline exactly what products you’ll be selling and what states you intend to sell to.

Be aware that CBD is considered a high-risk product. Due to the nature of what you will be selling you may be looking at higher fees on Authorize.net. These fees could be up to 7% per transaction. While you may end up getting an account, be on the lookout for any changes that may affect your business. Be prepared by having a few other options on hand in case your account is closed or restricted.

Finally, do your research on what is legal in your state and federally. While some states will allow shipments of certain cannabis-related products, that may not be the case for some others. The legal waters surrounding CBD are quite murky, so it’s always best to know what applies to your company and your long-term goals.
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