Exclusive Interview with Dama Financial Co-Founder and CEO Anh Hatzopoulos
Dama Financial was formed four and a half years ago by a group of payments professionals. Today, the company partners with FDIC-insured banks and offers the cannabis industry comprehensive banking and financial services. Co-Founder and CEO Anh Hatzopoulos spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about serving the cannabis space and growing the Dama Financial platform. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
Hatzopoulos has a long history of creating and scaling startups. Over the course of her career, she has had a number of exits via going public and being bought. When Colorado legalized recreational cannabis, she and her fellow co-founders Dan Henry and George Gresham recognized the lack of banking and financial solutions as a problem for the industry. They assumed that problem would be solved, but it still hadn’t been when California moved to legalize recreational cannabis. Together, they saw a need and a public safety issue that they could address.
The co-founders previously worked together at payments company Netspend. Dama Financial has attracted other talent including Chief Revenue Officer Eric Kaufman, CFO Jon Anderson, VP of Customer Operations Thea Jandial and Chief Risk Officer Michelle Sullivan.
Dama Financial’s Solutions
The Dama Financial platform provides cannabis clients access to bank accounts. Beyond that, clients can engage others services, such as savings accounts, lending and secured credit cards. The company is also adding a payroll service. The platform will continue to add more business tools for its cannabis clients.
While Dama Financial has competitors within each of the solutions categories it operates, there is no one company that matches its comprehensive offerings, according to Hatzopoulos. The company is able to offer its clients a single relationship for multiple financial solutions.
Serving the Cannabis Industry
Dama Financial serves the entire spectrum of the cannabis industry, including retailers, manufacturers, distributors and cultivators. The company also serves ancillary companies, such as labs, investment firms and law offices that touch the cannabis industry. Dama can serve any client who struggles to get a bank account that will have cannabis transactions flowing in and out of it.
Currently, Dama Financial serves clients in approximately 13 states. It has the infrastructure to serve clients in any state across the country, according to Hatzopoulos. The company focuses its efforts on states with high-need, whether because of a newly launched program or because of banks withdrawing services previously offered. Right now, Daman Financial is looking to expand its footprint in Nevada, Hawaii and Missouri.
With active consolidation in the industry, Dama Financial has been there to support clients going through that process. While its customers are going through M&A, Dama Financial may also consider deals to grow its own business. The company facilitates a wide variety of transactions through its platform, and there could be many different business applications that sit on top of payments, according to Hatzopoulos. The company may look to enable more business tools, whether through M&A or partnerships.
Dama Financial partners with banks, enabling them to safely bank with the cannabis industry. Hatzopoulos sees potential progress toward federal legalization, such as the SAFE Banking Act, as a positive for the company rather than an impediment.
Earlier this year, the company completed its $12.6 million Series B. The company is actively considering different fundraising options to support additional growth prospects. Ultimately, Dama Financial is continuously looking for ways to make payments so easy and accessible that they are invisible.
Tracking Continued Growth
The company is aggressively adding clients within its existing footprint and in the states it is expanding into, including Nevada, Missouri and Hawaii. The company started out by offering banking and merchant acquiring. Today, it offers those services as well as lending, secured credit cards and now payroll. Dama Financial plans to continue offering additional value to its customers, which in turn will drive more revenue.
Dama Financial tracks a number of different metrics across its platform, including the number of customers in its network, customer tenure and dollars processed through the platform. Customer engagement is another important area to measure. The company looks at the number of products each of its customers are engaged with, and right now, the company aims for that number to be three.
The industry is struggling with some bad information around consumer payment processing, with some companies operating with a lack of transparency, according to Hatzopoulos. Dama Financial strives to offer transparency to help move the industry forward. Going forward, the company is preparing to take advantage of the opportunity represented by more and more states coming online with legal cannabis markets.
New Cannabis Ventures provides a sponsored landing page for Dama Financial.