Massachusetts bank enters cannabis industry with new service unit

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Berkshire Bank, one of the largest banks in Massachusetts, is expanding services for cannabis companies and entrepreneurs nationwide.

The new banking unit will be established through a partnership with Florida-based Green Check Verified, a cannabis financial services and software company, to offer a platform for clients to conduct and monitor transactions, according to the Boston Business Journal.

Berkshire Bank joins a growing number of Massachusetts financial institutions that are beginning to serve marijuana businesses.

Available services for plant-touching, ancillary and other marijuana-related businesses include electronic fund transfers and wire services, armored cash pickup, debit cards and checks, mobile and online banking as well as savings accounts, money-market access and wealth management, the business publication reported.

The developments come as large parts of the marijuana industry still struggle to secure strong banking relationships and some key services.

The recent decision by financial giant Mastercard to halt cannabis purchases through its popular debit card underscored these ongoing challenges.

And, earlier this year, cannabis operators were forced to scramble and find a new payroll provider after receiving a memo from Paychex advising that the company would no longer process direct deposits or offer other services for marijuana-related businesses.

Marijuana retailers across the country are adjusting to handling and securing more cash in-store in the wake of the Mastercard decision, insiders told MJBizDaily.

Others are zeroing in on improving in-store communication with customers and the overall shopping experience as well as reassessing internal processes, including researching payment-processing vendors to potentially expanding card-purchasing options.