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Philadelphia bans cashless stores

Philadelphia bans cashless stores

Philadelphia has become the first major US city to ban cashless stores and restaurants in a move designed to end discrimination against the unbanked.

According to the Wall Street Journal, from 1 July, most stores will have to accept cash and will also be forbidden from putting a surcharge on people paying with paper money. Firms that violate the law could be fined up to $2000.

There are exemptions for some businesses, including parking lots and garages, hotels, wholesale stores and car rental companies.

Philadelphia may be the first to make the cashless move but it is unlikely to be the last. The New Jersey Legislature is set to follow suit while New York City, Washington and Chicago are all investigating similar measures.

Cash usage is on the wane in many areas as Americans increasingly use cards and mobile payment options such as Apple Pay at the point-of-sale. This has prompted some businesses to ban cash, which is expensive to handle, outright.

However, proponents of measures such as the one in Philadelphia 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.

Philadelphia City Councilman William Greenlee, who introduced the bill, says: "Most of the people who don’t have credit tend to be lower income, minority, immigrants. It just seemed to me, if not intentional, at least a form of discrimination."

Comments: (1)

John BaRoss
John BaRoss - FINCCLUDE Incorporated - Long Valley 08 March, 2019, 13:49Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

While many are spellbound by the cashless-society zeitgeist, there is a growing understanding that large portions of societies - the unbanked - will face worse difficulties in cashless societies (Finextra recently shared a warning-report that ~17% of UK population would be negatively impacted).  The other major issue stewards of DFS/MFS initiatives own responsibility of is the risks of herding societies into completely digital economies in the current climate of cyber-crime still outpacing cyber-security sophistication. Cashless societies face under reported risks of being potential financial cyber-slaughterhouses.  Forms of DFS/MFS remain magnificent innovations to help improve the lives of billions of the unbanked and underbanked, but complimentary with cash due to these two fundamental environmental limitations of today's reality (access is not ubiquitous and inadequate cyber-security).