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Now you 'CanPay' for pot with this app

Customers connect the CanPay app to their bank account, and then press a code on a pad at the counter when they’re ready to pay. (KATU Photo)

Even though marijuana is legal in Oregon and Washington, it’s illegal at the federal level, so dispensary owners find it tough to find a bank willing to take their money.

It also means that customers are forced to pay in cash because federal banking laws don’t allow for VISA or Mastercard purchases at pot shops.

People without cash can use onsite ATMs, but that service comes with a fee paid by the customer. But one business wants to change all that.

With the CanPay app, the business pays the fee.

It launched in Colorado and is now available in Washington and Oregon. Customers connect the app to their bank account, and then press a code on a pad at the counter when they’re ready to pay.

It’s taking time to catch on and Herbery owner Jim Mullin said only a handful of people use it every day.

“It’s new and you’re talking about people’s money, so they’re going to be a little apprehensive,” he said. “And I think once they find out that this is very credible and validated and vetted and all that, they’ll probably more likely join in.”

But Gareth Kautz, who runs High End Market Place in Vancouver, is skeptical of these third-party apps. He said it’s just as easy for people to go to the ATM as it is to set up the app on their phone.

“It just transfers the burden of where you’re paying from the direct consumer to the retailer, but that’s going to get transferred into the cost,” he said.

Kautz said banks could be the game changers.

“(It) will really but pressure on the banking industry as well as the government to give us more leniency in the way we can transact,” he said.

Until then cash is king, but apps like CanPay hope to change that.

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