Stripe just told a large number of its customers to get lost

UPDATE: This wasn't actually entirely Stripe's fault, their bank was the one who blasted everything with "Marijuana" referenced anywhere (probably some sort of keyword search). After some back-and-forth, stripe went back to their bank and got them to realize we're a legitimate company and not selling any Marijuana based products.

While in the scuffle, we tried to apply for a few other credit-card agencies and one other bank, who knew full well what we did and knew we didn't have anything to do with touching Marijuana products, who is supposed to be a "high risk" bank, rejected us outright. It's not just Stripe, and after this blog post Stripe actually contacted us and helped us get squared away, so I thank them for that.

TL;DR: Stripe's bank is screwing legitimate business by giving them 30 days to switch to a new platform. Even businesses that don't deal directly with Marijuana, but operate in the same space.

A few years ago, I started a company along with some others to create a new product designed to track what states are doing with Marijuana laws, including tracking who gets licenses, what companies are dealing with Marijuana, and what people belong to those companies and licenses. This is similar to a Dun and Bradstreet but specifically for business operating in the legalized Marijuana space. We also tracked all of the laws for each state and have issued two books, one for average consumers, and one for businesses looking to join the market.

Marijuana is everywhere. At this point, 29 states have some form of legalized Marijuana. New states are coming on board too. Over 60% of americans back legalizing Marijuana. Yet this isn't an issue of Marijuana being illegal, it's an issue of Banks stepping in where they shouldn't.

We are a media company, a publisher, we do not, and will not, ever touch any part of Marijuana. We do not help companies track plants, offer any financial help with anyone who produces, processes, or distributes marijuana, or help anyone acquire marijuana in any way. We simply track the business, like many other publishers do. We've even been on Yahoo Finance as one of the foremost experts on the laws in different states.

We've tried advertising on Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Both Google and Microsoft flat out blocked us based solely on keywords. This was expected. We use Stripe for transaction purchases, and we've never had an issue, until this morning when we got a notice from Stripe that we have 30 days to migrate elsewhere. They're shutting us down because we talk about legalized Marijuana.

Stripe's bank is having a major overreaction


As it turns out, Stripe recently got a major audit by their bank, and due to that anyone even related to the Marijuana industry is being kicked off. How far will this go? If you're the NY Times and you have a column on the Marijuana industry does that mean you can't use Stripe? I just blogged about Marijuana, am I no longer allowed to use Stripe? The IRS collects taxes from Marijuana companies, are they also not allowed to use Stripe?

This isn't a fatal issue for us, however it does mean that every one of our customers will have to re-enter their credit card information into a new system. We can't get that information out of stripe for security reasons, and our customers are set up to Auto-Renew via subscriptions. If we end up losing some of our customers because of Stripe, who will pick up that slack? What about the extra month of development of integrating a new payment system and then getting the customers to switch over to it?

I know it's a tricky business, but it's going to far when you're actively destroying companies simply because they're reporting the news. I know Trump wants this to become the new normal, attacking anyone that has a different opinion than he does, but I didn't expect a well-known and respected company such as Stripe to take an active stance and decide that if you're talking about Marijuana, you're banned from their service.

I know this isn't exactly stripe setting these policies, it's the bank they deal with; but there are many many banks that allow even companies that physically sell Marijuana to do business with them. If Stripe had told us that we're in a "Risky Business" and so we have to pay an extra 1% transaction fee, we would have grumbled but ultimately kept with them. If Stripe had told us they're working on another bank that will accept us, we'd be happy. If they had even bothered to ask us what our business was before just deciding they know what we do, at least we would have known what's going on. As it is, Stripe just saw the word "Cannabiz" in our invoices, and decided we need to go.

I hope you're not in the same boat as we are, but if you do anything related to Marijuana, Cannabis, or in general anything that the president doesn't agree with, you may soon be. Small businesses are suffering because companies like Stripe won't stand up for us.
0