BLAZE raises $8M, enables cashless transactions

BLAZE, an enterprise resource of legal cannabis vendors, has closed on its Series A funding round for $8 million. Delta Emerald Ventures led the round, which included a past investor, Act One Ventures, and new investor, SOJE Capital. The company has raised a total of $9.5 million since 2019.

“We’re thrilled to have such a great group of investors to help grow our platform and company to the next level,” said Chris Violas, co-founder and chief executive officer of BLAZE, in a release. “Cannabis technology has reached an exciting tipping point and BLAZE is poised to tackle all aspects of the supply chain.”

BLAZE provides resources for resource planning, point of sale, delivery and marketing. The company is touted as a cost-efficient resource for dispensaries to enter into the cannabis market with integrations into industry leaders that can be utilized to manage a scaling business. According to its website, integration partnerships include Weedmaps, dutchie, OnFleet, Leafly and Tookan.

BLAZE also offers BLAZEPAY, a point of banking debit processing tool. BLAZEPAY provides its merchants with a safe payment platform, including hardware payment terminals that connect with their point of sale systems and offer nightly batching that is sent directly to the merchants’ bank accounts.

Since cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, most banks do not service credit card transactions for cannabis. While most banks allow for debit card transactions, many dispensaries fear a bank or credit union could decide to comply with these same federal standards without proper notice, leading to many “cash-only” dispensaries. 

The government has been working on amending these issues with the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which was introduced and passed in the House of Representatives in 2019 under H.R. 1595. It was recently reintroduced to the House under H.R. 2068 with sponsor Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, D-N.Y. Plans for the bill have not been updated since introduction in March.

BLAZE has experienced rapid growth from the introduction of this payment technology, facilitating over $1 billion in annualized gross merchandise value, according to its release. It intends to use the recent raise to continue scaling products like BLAZEPAY and expand into new markets.

“BLAZE is emerging as one of the top requested and touted tech integrations in the cannabis ecosystem,” said Ian Dominguez, a portfolio manager at Delta Emerald. “Cannabis software consolidation and rationalization trends are well underway, and we strongly believe the BLAZE team will emerge as one of the winners. The depth, sophistication and ease of integration with BLAZE’s API positions BLAZE as a critical software partner and a superior offering compared to its competitors.”

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