Marijuana-Focused Stablecoin Issuer Added to Arizona Fintech Sandbox

Arizona's fintech program has added a controversial startup using stablecoins to evade federal regulations

AccessTimeIconJul 31, 2019 at 8:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:15 a.m. UTC

A stablecoin project for the marijuana industry has joined an Arizona fintech sandbox.

According to Arizona’s Attorney Generals Office, startup Alta was accepted into the office's fintech program. The seventh startup to join to date, Alta is looking to address the banking needs of a $350 million statewide industry.

Current federal regulations prohibit bank involvement with the marijuana industry, leaving businesses searching for alternatives. State regulators believe Alta’s dollar-pegged-stablecoin and payment network provide such an alternative in addition to a healthy candidate for fintech development.

In a statement, co-founder and CEO of Alta Jesse Forrest pointed out the specificity of the product due to legal considerations:

"We help solve the banking challenges facing medical marijuana companies and their vendors. ALTA uses blockchain and geofencing technology to protect clients’ digital payments and transfers. Other digital payment companies require a bank account. We provide all the financial services medical marijuana companies need without requiring a bank account."

Alta’s stablecoin can be purchased via its platform. By purchasing ALTA coins, marijuana tainted transactions become legal sales providing an off-ramp for profits. The startup offers cash pickups in armoured vehicles with instant transfers into dollars available.

State Representative Jeff Weninger and creator of the fintech program welcomed Alta to the program, noting the “huge potential for stablecoin technology in cash-intensive businesses.”

The state backing of Alta adds to a mixed bag for the Grand Canyon state, as legislators failed to pass a cryptocurrency tax bill last May. The original bill sought to make state taxes payable in cryptocurrencies similar to Ohio. The bill failed to be passed before the session ended, however.

Monument Valley image via Flickr


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