Justin Fischer, CEO & Co-Founder, VeriLeaf  Justin Fischer, CEO & Co-Founder
Many know the massive Marijuana market growth in the roughly three dozen legal states over the past five years, but few know the boom happening with it’s close cousin, Hemp & Hemp-Derived CBD. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, Industrial Hemp was legalized and granted federal regulation by the USDA. This has paved the way for individual states to pass their own legislation for licensing and procedures, and there are now 47 states are actively participating. But unlike Marijuana, this isn’t celebrities or hippie farmers looking to grow a psychedelic plant, many of these businesses are existing farmers and retailers in our communities who are hoping this crop can bring them much needed revenue.

“Despite this huge opportunity to serve their community and bring in additional deposits, many financial institutions are turning their backs on this market due to the heavier compliance overhead. This has resulted in many long standing bank relationships being terminated full stop,” explains Justin Fischer, CEO & Co-Founder of VeriLeaf.

Even though Hemp & CBD are federally legal and regulated, they still require the necessary due diligence to ensure these companies are legitimately operating. This includes numerous questions regarding the business operations, licensing, adverse issues, procedures and negative news reviews. Many of the FIs that are operating in this space are using a patchwork of emails, file shares, dropboxes, faxes and e-signs which become a mind numbing deluge to the business owner who wasn’t expecting to have to validate so much information both initially and ongoing.

“We have been working with community FIs for over 20 years and we also have roots in farming - this is why we decided to step up and automate this process - creating a better experience for the business and the FI.”

The company provides completely configurable applications based on the FI’s compliance policy, target market (Hemp, CBD, Money Services, Alcohol and more), and region that helps filter and streamline the on-boarding process, as well as dynamic workflows to maintain SOPs for ongoing compliance.

As traditional methods were lengthy and less effective, VeriLeaf has automated the application flow through an online and mobile platform for FIs to funnel, filter and prequalify businesses. With its platform, VeriLeaf helps the FIs generate leads and filter them through custom marketing microsites and pre-qualification elements, specific to the FI, on every application. The company reviews the full business formation, related individuals, marketing materials, website, negative news, and relevant licensing information. VeriLeaf’s compliance specialists even monitor this data and information on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance is being maintained. Through online and mobile tools, VeriLeaf provides the FIs an efficient process and a smooth experience for businesses to interact and apply with them.
And a single source of information to share with regulators and auditors regarding their full high risk business portfolio.

Compliance is always going to be required but why not make it as easy on both the FI and business as possible? Business Experience is everything; it’s what keeps them coming back!

Fischer explains that these new markets are uncharted territory for most FIs and businesses. VeriLeaf offers a free online community and provider directory for the businesses to swap ideas and communicate with trusted providers.

Due to its team expertise and well-versed leadership, VeriLeaf has been making huge waves in the industry. As a serial entrepreneur who comes from 3 generations of farmers, Fischer understands challenges faced by both small-town banks and the farming community. In his 20+ years in the Fintech space, he has focused heavily on building enterprise-grade solutions with first-class customer experience, specifically for community FIs. He was previously an executive at Q2ebanking (QTWO). He explains that this is a new opportunity for the community FIs, “main street banks”, to connect with their community and support a legal and booming new industry.

“I often see the challenges the small business owner and farmer experience when trying to get a bank account and the flip side where the FI, who wants to help, is struggling to scale their risk mitigation process and has no choice but to decline these community members and sometimes existing account holders. We have to do something, and not just for Hemp, but all high risk business markets that our community FIs are serving.” says Fischer. One of VeriLeaf’s FIs saw more than $7M in new deposits from a handful of customers in less than 90 days.

VeriLeaf, through their Head of Compliance, Jessica Caballero, has become the goto expert for Hemp and CBD policies. Even training government agencies including CSBS and the FDIC. “We have an amazing resource with Jessica, someone who has been a regulator and is also very experienced in community FI software.” She has been consulting with FIs to help them develop and implement their programs.

Moreover, the company continues to add additional workflows, and now supports insurance, lending, and merchant accounts applications as well as private ATM due diligence. We understand the landscape of both our financial institutions’ clients and their businesses, and we truly want to help them both create opportunities to succeed,” concludes Fischer.