In a move that diverges somewhat from its straight-laced corporate image, Microsoft has partnered with Kind Financial on a cloud-based sales tracking software for the legalized marijuana industry.
Los Angeles-based Kind Financial specializes in transaction, tracking and compliance software for legal pot sellers and government agencies tasked with regulating the booming industry. Earlier this year, New Frontier and ArcView Market Research forecast that the U.S. legal cannabis market would grow to $7.1 billion in 2016, a 26 percent increase compared with last year's haul.
State coffers are also feeling the effects. Colorado is set to collect $135 million during the 2015-2016 fiscal year in marijuana taxes and license fees.
Microsoft picked Kind Financial to participate in the new Microsoft Health and Human Services Pod for Managed Service Providers running on the software giant's Azure Government Cloud platform, the companies announced June 16.
Azure Government Cloud is a suite of cloud services that are designed to meet the stringent security requirements of government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense. Last month, Microsoft announced new cloud-based data protection capabilities for U.S. government agencies, including Azure Backup Server, which can be used to back up their Microsoft environments (Windows clients, SQL Server, SharePoint Server, etc.).
Kind and Microsoft are teaming up to create purpose-built cloud solutions for states, counties and municipalities to monitor the cannabis industry and ensure compliance with local regulations.
Kind's Agrisoft Seed to Sale for Government platform, which enables government agencies to track compliance with jurisdictional regulations, forms the basis of the offering. It provides financial and operational oversight as well as features that can sniff out money laundering.
While the future of legalized marijuana may be up in the air, according to David Dinenberg, Kind Financial's founder and CEO, he said in a statement, "It is clear that legalized cannabis will always be subject to strict oversight and regulations similar to alcohol and tobacco; and, KIND is proud to offer governments and regulatory agencies the tools and technology to monitor cannabis compliance.
"I am delighted that Microsoft supports KIND's mission to build the backbone for cannabis compliance," he added.
"KIND's strategic industry positioning, experienced team and top-notch-technology running in the Microsoft Azure Government cloud made for an easy decision to align efforts," said Kimberly Nelson, executive director of Microsoft State and Local Government Solutions, in a statement. "KIND agreed that Azure Government is the only cloud platform designed to meet government standards for the closely regulated cannabis compliance programs and we look forward to working together to help our government customers launch successful regulatory programs."
The partnership is the first of its kind for Microsoft. Incidentally, the company is headquartered in the state of Washington, where recreational pot sales are legal.
"We support government customers and partners to help them meet their missions," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK via email. "KIND Financial is building solutions on our government cloud to help these agencies regulate and monitor controlled substances and items, and manage compliance with jurisdictional laws and regulations."