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At a time when cannabis banking legislation hangs in limbo and the substance itself remains federally illegal, some credit unions have carved their niche in providing financial services to cannabis businesses while others are still hesitating to enter the market or have written it off altogether. But one CUSO is betting on credit unions becoming more deeply entrenched in the world of cannabis cultivators, dispensaries and related businesses, and has carved a niche of its own offloading two of the biggest pain points for credit unions in the space – compliance and technology.

The $96.5 million, Santa Rosa, Calif.-based North Bay Credit Union, which began serving cannabis businesses in 2017 and was recently named the preferred banking partner of the California Cannabis Industry Association, launched the CUSO Higher Growth LLC in 2021 along with partners Austin Capital Trust Company in Henderson, Nev., and Silicon Valley fintech MRBD. Higher Growth’s credit union clients can offer basic financial services to their cannabis business members, including checking and savings accounts, debit cards, credit cards, electronic payments, B2B transfers, remote check deposit and employee direct deposit; access an API-driven data integration and analytics platform; benefit from compliance services that help ensure the credit union is adhering to regulations such as the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), Currency Transaction Reporting (CTR), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), Customer Identification (CIP) and FinCEN reporting; and deliver cash management services to cannabis business members including vaulting, Smart Safes and armored car transport.

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