For several years now, without concrete protections from the federal government, many traditional banks have shied away from doing business with companies attached to the cannabis industry. But as banks sit on the sidelines, one Vancouver company is working to fill the void.
Guardian Data Systems was founded in 2008 with the goal of offering banking, credit and financial services to cannabis businesses around the country. They have been able to do this, according to CEO Lance Ott, by providing services to ancillary cannabis businesses; those that do not “touch the plant” and do not represent “brand damage” to partner financial institutions.
“We act as an intermediary or liaison for our clients and our financial institution partners,” Ott explained. “We are also registered with a number of sponsor banks, which allows us to provide merchant accounts to the space on a case by case basis.”
In addition to providing financial services, Vancouver-based Guardian Data Systems is well-known within the cannabis industry for their specialized software. Known as ROAR, their software comes with enterprise resource planning and point-of-sale solutions that are integrated vertically across all business applications.
“Whether a cannabis business focuses on growing, processing, testing, dispensing, delivering or all of the above, the ROAR cannabis software solution is designed to meet those needs,” said Ott. “We give people the power to automate their operations, gain insight into their data, stay compliant and control costs.”
Ott explained that cannabis businesses are under a very tight microscope and because of that, they need to have inventory control as well as reliable ways to ensure that they are meeting state and local regulations. When a business uses various systems it can become a juggling act and increase the risk of becoming fragmented and error-prone. Guardian Data Systems aims to reduce those risks through its unique cloud-based platform that covers the entire supply chain and all business operations.
Since its founding, Guardian Data Systems has invested more than $7 million in its technology and worked with over 5,000 businesses around the United States. Recently, the company was named the winner of the CannaTech Award for Cultivation Technology by The National Cannabis Industry Association.
As the cannabis industry continues to expand and change, the company adapts quickly to these changes and has been steadily growing because of it, said Ott. Today, Guardian Data Systems employs more than 30 people across several states.
“Due to our continued growth, we have added new IT and financial services personnel, as well as specialists in manufacturing and inventory control management,” he said. “We take pride in listening to our customers and being responsive to their needs.”
The road ahead
As a whole, the cannabis industry is experiencing rapid global growth. Given growing demand, Guardian Data Systems sees growth opportunities coming soon in the commercial and state government sectors. As more states legalize marijuana, more growers, labs, dispensaries and delivery-type businesses emerge, which requires reliable technology and a company with significant industry expertise. In the government sector, legalization requires a seed-to-sale system that is designed specifically for them. Guardian Data Systems believes they can meet those needs.
Even with the recent changeover in the administration in Washington, D.C., the company’s team is hopeful that the cannabis industry will continue to positively impact economic growth.
“I think that while all of us in the industry are trying to identify exactly where President Trump and his administration are headed, we all need to stay very focused on building sustainable and responsible businesses,” said Ott. “That means deploying secure and reliable technology, and emphasizing strong customer support.
“Credibility is powerful currency in cannabis,” he added. “Our business model is based on these values, which positions us for success now, and well into the future.”