By Leslie T. Snadowsky
If the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is signed into law, banks and credit unions will be allowed to provide services to legal cannabis businesses. Hilton Head-headquartered merchant service provider (MSP) Equity Payment Merchant Processing is waiting for the industry to catch on fire.
“We’re watching the federal regulations closely on cannabis and CBD,” said Tami Bream, Equity Payment Merchant Processing president and COO. “Now, it’s against the law to use anything but cash because cannabis is still a Schedule I substance, so you can’t use a federal banking system for sales. But we have been slowly networking and taking small initial steps into that arena.”
Bream said 95 percent of Equity Payment Merchant Processing’s business comes from networking, and they hope to be the first to jump into the billion-dollar cannabis industry to help clients process payments. The company also is making inroads networking with crypto companies and peer-to-peer (P2P) digital payment services like Venmo and Zelle.
“We don’t really do any kind of cold calling, and we don’t have telemarketers,” Bream said. “Everything is through networking because in the kind of business we’re in, you really have to trust who you’re dealing with because it involves your money and your bank accounts.”
Since 2004 Equity Payment Merchant Processing has been providing essential debit card, credit card, prepaid card, electronic benefits transfer (EBT), ACH processing and digital wallet solutions to both mom-and-pop shops and companies that process millions of dollars of transactions.
Primarily working on “warm leads” and through existing relationships with their clients, Bream said Equity Payment Merchant Processing prides itself on its concierge-level service when building individualized, affordable and highly effective merchant solutions for national retail, e-commerce, mail order, telephone order, Internet-based, home-based and service industries, as well as nonprofits.
“You always get one of us on the phone when you call,” Bream said. “And we will take care of your problem right away. We’re very much consultative in our approach.”
Bream said through groups like Business Network International (BNI) and Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island, she and her team attend many events in Hilton Head and get referrals to help struggling businesses. As an industry leader in customer support, technology and delivery. Equity Payment Merchant Processing helps to manage credit-card processing services properly, enabling clients to keep more of their resources to invest in other areas of their businesses.
“Meeting clients face-to-face is absolutely a strength when you’re dealing with people’s money,” Bream said. “When you’re texting and emailing, you lose all the nuance that you have in your voice, your inflection, your facial expressions, your body language. We feel we’ve got such a great team that when people meet us, they kind of become our friends. And many of our merchants feel that way and have called us for other things besides just merchant processing, like advertising help, banking help and accounting help.”
Bream said she networks at local sports events and wine festivals and follows up after an initial contact. She tries to spend quality time getting to know clients so they can get to know her and her company. But despite the social lunches and meetings for drinks, Bream said networking is work.
“It’s like any relationship in life,” she said, “you have to put effort into it. If you’re not willing to do that, then you’re not going to be successful.”
1. It’s work. “I would definitely say it takes work,” Bream said. “You have to put in the effort and what you put into it is magnified with the results you get out of it.”
2. Never waste a networking opportunity. “Whether you’re fishing offshore or playing golf, never waste a moment to talk to people and tell them what you do. But you have to follow up and meet them beyond that initial contact,” Bream said.
3. Track progress and keep accountable. “If you have a referral and three weeks later you’re like, dang it, I forgot to call that person I was supposed to, they’re going to think, well you don’t follow up very quickly, so why should I do business with you?” Bream said.