US cities look into banning cashless stores

The US push back against cashlessness has begun in earnest, with several cities and states taking steps that could force stores and restaurants to accept paper money.

As Americans increasingly use cards and mobile payment options such as Apple Pay at the point-of-sale, some businesses have begun banning cash, which is expensive to handle, outright.

While the practice is still rare, the New Jersey Legislature and the Philadelphia City Council have moved quickly to pass measures designed to ban such cashless stores.

New York City, Washington and Chicago could all follow suit, according to the New York Times, with stores that fail to comply facing financial penalties in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Proponents of the bills argue that cashless stores discriminate against the unbanked, poorer members of society that do not have access to credit cards or bank accounts.

In addition, cash is still popular with many, the favoured payment method for 26% of Americans, according to Federal Reserve numbers.

The ATM Industry Association highlights that every US banknote states: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private”. Says the group’s CEO Mike Lee: “Why decrease freedom of choice for citizens in a free market democracy?”

However, as technology advances, retailers are set to push for the choice to deny cash. Philadelphia City councilman Allan Dobbs has told a local news outfit that Amazon warned the city that its new rules would “impede” plans to introduce one of the e-commerce giant’s new cashierless Go stores.