Member Blog: The Evolution of Cannabis-Friendly Banks and Credit Unions

Member Blog: The Evolution of Cannabis-Friendly Banks and Credit Unions

If you are a cannabis-related business (CRB) looking for banking services, that search is becoming less demanding. With the U.S. cannabis market expected to exceed $70 billion by 2030, financial institutions are increasingly becoming aware of the opportunity to boost their bottom lines, while supporting the safety and economic development of their local communities. As friendlier cannabis banking legislation emerges from Washington, D.C., we expect to see thousands of financial institutions actively serving the industry, up from the approximately 250 banks and credit unions serving the industry today.

Early on, smaller credit unions were among the most prevalent pioneers in the industry. Even today, most banks and credit unions that are cannabis-friendly are less than $1 billion in size. That trend is changing rapidly, though, and with it, an increased level of sophistication is supporting the cannabis ecosystem. In fact, at least two banks with assets larger than $50 billion on the East and West Coast respectively have entered the market and by all accounts, have booming portfolios.

When looking for a banking partner, CRBs should consider a few key questions:

  • Does the bank or credit union have an existing cannabis portfolio?
  • What are the fees for service?
  • Can the financial institution provide ACH services for business-to-business transactions?
  • How does it handle cash deposits?

Deposit taking is the primary focus of cannabis-friendly financial institutions however there is activity in a few key areas relevant to the industry.


Fast-growing industries like cannabis are always in need of growth capital, and the banking sector has been slow to fill this void. The exception to this is in mature markets (such as Oregon, Colorado, and Massachusetts) where banks and credit unions in search of low-cost deposits are increasingly offering lending to attract legal cannabis operators to their institutions. While interest rates are still higher than typical business loans and generally require personal guarantees, the advent of cannabis lending is a welcomed relief to founders and others who have historically had to part with equity to meet capital needs.

Fortunately, lending is increasingly becoming mainstream. By our estimates, 50 or so banks and credit unions have opened their wallets in this regard, with most of the lending activity tied to commercial real estate. Equipment financing has also become more prevalent, and operating lines of credit are extended rarely to those firms with deep operational experience and more substantial balance sheets.


Until federal legalization occurs, the payments space will continue to include workarounds created by fintech entrepreneurs and others. ACH wallets tied to loyalty programs are often seen in medical markets, and until the end of 2022, cashless ATMs had widespread adoption on the adult-use side.

Most recently, PIN-based debit solutions running on the regional debit rails are gaining traction, and these options pass compliance hurdles that were not present with cashless ATMs. With their advent, merchants are also seeing an increase in sales of 20% or so as compared to cash-only environments.

Access to banking and financial services in the cannabis industry has come a long way in the last decade yet has a long way to go. There is a real advantage for early movers to provide services and we expect more and more financial institutions to recognize the opportunity and get involved.

Author & Company Information

Noah Carey

Noah Carey is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Shield Compliance, a comprehensive compliance management platform for cannabis banking. For more information about Shield’s products and services, visit or contact

Member Blog: Move Over Cannabis ERP – This is How You Breakdown Information Silos

Related Posts

Join the movement

NCIA is leading the cannabis industry's unified and coordinated campaign to ensure our business sector is treated fairly and has the opportunity to reach its full potential. Now - more than ever - is the time to invest in your business and the future of the industry by becoming a member.

This site uses cookies. By using this site or closing this notice, you agree to the use of cookies and our privacy policy.