|Bitcoin’s Rise Solidifies the Intersection of Cannabis and Cryptocurrency|
CannabisNewsWire Editorial Coverage: As bitcoin’s price continues its meteoric rise, which has seen the cryptocurrency skyrocket in value from just under $1,000 at the start of 2017 to above $10,000 in November, a number of companies have taken steps to benefit from the growth of the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry. One area of the industry that appears to offer significant growth potential is the application of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to sectors of the economy, such as the cannabis industry, that are blocked from accessing banking services. Among the companies that have oriented their businesses to take advantage of opportunities in these markets are Global Payout, Inc. (GOHE) (GOHE Profile), SinglePoint, Inc. (SING Profile), Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), Bitcoin Services, Inc. (BTSC) and Riot Blockchain, Inc. (RIOT).
Global Payout, Inc. (GOHE) has positioned itself to provide transactional services to companies offering cannabis-related products through its MoneyTrac Technology, Inc. subsidiary, which enables such companies to access the banking services they need to conduct their business. While some states have legalized the use of cannabis, it is still categorized as a Schedule 1 drug according to the federal Controlled Substances Act – hence, cannabis businesses are essentially “unbankable,” and shut out of the traditional banking system.
The MoneyTrac payment platform handles regulatory compliance and the processing and tracking of transactions for these firms, as well as offering additional services such as bill pay and loyalty. Cannabis companies can use the platform to perform banking functions not available to them at traditional financial institutions. In conjunction with affiliated partnerships, MoneyTrac enables merchants dealing in cannabis and other high-risk goods to access an audited, fully compliant system they can use to access banking services.
The recent addition of bitcoin technology to the platform helps merchants address the difficulties associated with having to perform cash-only transactions by giving them a secure payment option. Backed by the power of the blockchain, a distributed network of peer-to-peer servers that enables the preservation of highly accurate transaction records and thereby ensures full transparency, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are increasingly being accepted by merchants around the world for transactional purposes.
To help expand the scope of this service, Global Payout recently announced (http://cnw.fm/hbK1L) a strategic partnership with T&T Financial to boost the sales and marketing services it offers to the underserved cannabis industry businesses. In the press release, the company emphasized that MoneyTrac has also been working with additional partners in the financial services arena to set the stage for the banking solutions it intends to offer legally compliant cannabis companies – services that are sorely needed given the tremendous amount of business currently being transacted in the industry.
MoneyTrac has also ramped up sales and marketing in Los Angeles County for PotSaver, its recently acquired cannabis brand. PotSaver is a revenue-producing community periodical and online advertising platform that offers listings on discounted cannabis-related products to local dispensaries and shops. With an already established presence in the San Diego County cannabis community, MoneyTrac has provided the company with the support to expand its operations in preparation for the legalization of recreational cannabis in Los Angeles and Orange counties in 2018.
The Los Angeles edition of Potsaver is expected to launch January 1, 2018, followed by the release of “PotSaver Biz,” developed exclusively for business operators in the emerging cannabis industry, by the end of Q1 2018 (http://cnw.fm/3DT0x).
“One of our biggest takeaways from attending the MJBizCon was how much better the cannabis industry can be connected from a business perspective through a publication such as PotSaver Biz. This publication will provide many of these owners, who are operating virtually every type of business in the industry, from lighting equipment to security services, an effective platform to market their products and services to the specific owners of other businesses in the industry that are in need of exactly what they have to offer,” MTRAC COO Vanessa Luna stated in the press release.
Another company targeting payment issues and subsequent opportunity in the cannabis industry is SinglePoint, Inc. (SING), which along with AppSwarm, Inc. (SWRM) recently finalized development plans to release mobile applications specifically designed to solve issues in the cannabis space using the blockchain technology and bitcoin payment options. The applications and tech will be modeled and marketed under SinglePoint’s SingleSeed subsidiary (www.SingleSeed.com), while AppSwarm will provide the necessary technical support and application development. According to the companies (http://cnw.fm/jnw8B), the mobile apps and tech will also modernize the consumer experience by adding in SinglePoint’s payment features, as well as a multitude of other functionalities that are currently proprietary to AppSwarm.
SinglePoint has also completed its “soft launch” of a bitcoin exchange designed to address the difficulties that being unbankable causes such firms. The company’s system is available for use in cannabis businesses located in any of the 29 states that allow legal sales and the District of Columbia. The payment system enables instant bitcoin-driven purchases with a credit or debit card for customers who have signed up with the system, similar to systems already in use overseas. Processing of transactions occurs outside of traditional FDIC-regulated banking channels.
“We are very pleased with what we have built out and executed on with this solution. SinglePoint now has a base to continue innovating on for the cannabis payments space. Businesses are contacting us daily about payment services and with this solution we feel confident we will be on boarding many of these customers. This is just the beginning of a solution that will ultimately serve cannabis businesses much beyond payments. The overall goal is to have a fully integrated solution for businesses to manage their day-to-day operations from beginning to end,” SinglePoint President Wil Ralston stated in the press release (http://cnw.fm/NbK0d).
While bitcoin-enabled cannabis companies offer hybrid plays on both the growing cryptocurrency and cannabis markets, a number of pure plays on the potential of cryptocurrency exist, including Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), which is the first publicly traded entity solely invested in bitcoin. Sponsored by Grayscale Investments, the trust allows investors to gain exposure to the price of bitcoin via a traditional investment vehicle without dealing with the issues involved with purchasing, storing, and securing bitcoins. In a sign of the acceptance cryptocurrency investments are gaining, Bitcoin Investment Trust was selected by OTC Market Group as one of its “OTCQX Best 50” of 2017.
Another company that has seized the opportunity to offer bitcoin-related ancillary services is Bitcoin Services, Inc. (BTSC). The company’s stock price, as with a number of other industry players, has soared in 2017, rising from a price of $0.01 to over $0.30 in November. BTSC offers bitcoin escrow services and also develops blockchain software and mines cryptocurrency. Bitcoin Services has created a new subsidiary this year, Crypto Capital Corp., which it intends to use to develop a cryptocurrency wallet enabling users to store multiple digital currencies securely in a single wallet.
A play on the technology of the blockchain is Riot Blockchain, Inc. (RIOT), formerly known as Bioptix. In October of 2017 the company rebranded its business to reflect its entry into the digital currency market, where it intends to buy cryptocurrency and blockchain companies. Its goal is to become a leading blockchain authority and to position itself as an investment vehicle offering exposure to the blockchain and cryptocurrency environment.
In November, Riot Blockchain announced it had made a strategic investment in Verady, LLC, which uses blockchain technology and thought leadership in the sector to provide accounting standards and audit services to companies operating in the cryptocurrency industry. Verady has recently debuted a decentralized network of tools for financial reporting and accounting aimed at the cryptocurrency market called VeraNet.
The intersection of the growth of the cannabis and cryptocurrency markets has created a promising environment for firms looking to capitalize on the robust growth currently occurring in these industries. Legalization of the use of cannabis for medical and recreational use by governments around the world has led to powerful demand for the product, which shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. This is reflected in a report by Grand View Research, which projects that the cannabis market will reach $55.8 billion by 2025.
Similarly, the ability of the blockchain to provide a decentralized, encrypted ledger to store records in an efficient, verifiable manner without requiring assistance from intermediaries has facilitated growth in the cryptocurrency market. The blockchain serves as the backbone of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and its radical transparency has enabled the use of bitcoin to process high risk transactions, such as those in the cannabis industry. In a sign of the growing mainstream acceptance of the cryptocurrency, the U.S. CFTC recently gave approval to the CME CBOE exchanges to start trading bitcoin future contracts on Dec. 18 of this year.
Companies that participate in either or both of these markets can take advantage of the interplay between them, as firms offering pureplay bitcoin offerings can benefit from the increased usage of the cryptocurrency likely to arise from the growth of the cannabis market, and companies strictly offering cannabis services can profit from the increased payment and management options enabled by blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. The companies named above have positioned themselves to take part in this growth, making them worthy subjects for further research by investors seeking investment opportunities in these growing industries.
For more information on Global Payout, please visit: Global Payout, Inc. (GOHE)
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