Sunday , September 19, 2021

Eye on Acquiring: Shift4 Adds the United Center, And OLB Dives Deeper Into CBD

Shift4 Payments Inc. continued its expansion into sports and entertainment venues Tuesday, announcing that it will provide payment processing for Chicago’s United Center, home to the National Basketball Association’s Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League. The payments offering relies on Shift4’s VenueNext technology. 

Shift4 said it will provide a variety of payment options for fans of the two teams, including cashier-facing point-of-sale, mobile ordering, and contactless payments integrated within apps offered by the teams and the venue.

“Shift4 and VenueNext … are important additions to our roster as we look to continue to provide a convenient and seamless fan experience for the upcoming 2021-22 season,” said Kevin O’Brien, director of food and beverage operations at the United Center, in a prepared statement.

The deal builds on Shift4s expansion to sports and entertainment venues, including San Diego’s Petco Park, home of major league baseball’s San Diego Padres, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers and of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

Shift4 gained its foothold in the Staples Center through its acquisition of VenueNext Inc. earlier this year.

In related news, processor OLB Group Inc. on Tuesday announced it has signed a non-binding letter of intent to acquire a portfolio of CBD sellers and other merchants with total annual transaction volume of more than $300 million. The proposed purchase price and seller were not disclosed. 

The portfolio includes more than 1,200 merchants. Payments will be processed through OLB’s SecurePay Payment Gateway, which supports digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, cryptocurrency wallets, and PayPal. SecurePay also integrates with back-office systems, including QuickBooks and other business-software applications.

The deal expands OLB’s burgeoning portfolio of CBD and cannabis merchants. Previously, OLB has partnered with a marketing firm that offers a white-label rewards programs to more than 500 cannabis merchants.

OLB views CBD and cannabis merchants as a growth market now that banks are starting to come around to banking those merchants, says OLB chief executive Ronny Yakov. 

“This a growing but challenging market, because of the vetting that has to done with the merchants [to meet banks’ requirements], and we are getting better at it,” Yakov says. “The acquisition gives us a strong position in a marketplace that continues to demonstrate robust growth and profitability.”

The CBD market was valued at $2.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow 21.2% through 2028, according to Grandview Research. Fourteen states have legalized CBD products. 

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a chemical in the cannabis sativa plant that is not psychoactive and therefore does not intoxicate users. Fourteen states have legalized CBD products. 

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