New York taking steps to penalize cashless businesses



With credit and debit cards on the rise, the use of cash is rapidly dwindling. However, several states, including New York, want to reverse this trend. 

In a matter of days, the New York City Council will vote on a bill that will eliminate discrimination towards low-income individuals who don’t have bank accounts by punishing businesses and stores that don’t accept cash. Introduced by District 15 Council Member Richie Torres, this bill would make shops and businesses think twice about refusing to accept cash.

If the bill is approved, New York will join several other states and cities who prohibit businesses from not accepting cash. According to Karma Allen of ABC News, both Massachusetts and New Jersey passed bills earlier this year to eliminate “cash-free practices.” 

While there is no civil penalty yet, Raymond Rodriguez, Deputy Chief of Staff for Ritchie Torres, says there will be a $1,000 fine for businesses after their first violation. Rodriguez talked about how a big portion of the city’s population don’t have bank accounts and are not able to pay electronically. 

“The rise of cashless businesses in these areas limit minorities and even senior citizens from purchasing goods and products from stores that don’t accept cash,” said Rodriguez.  

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), approximately 6.5% of U.S. households didn’t have a bank account in 2017, many of whom were African-Americans and Hispanics.

However, this proposed bill has received some criticism from various store owners and small businesses. Places that allow credit and debit cards enable faster and easier transactions and conversely, accepting cash will make these stores vulnerable to robberies and thefts. 

Dig Inn, one of the many food shops that don’t accept cash, says on its website “8% or less of transactions were cash.” It also states that cash management takes up a sizable amount of the day, lessening time dedicated to needed food production and preparation to serve their customers. 

The same can be said with the popular food chain Dos Toros. According to Henry Grabar of the Slate, co-founder Leo Kremer said the number of customers paying in cash fell to 15% before this year and managing cash was eating up valuable time toward serving their customers. 

At Hudson Eats, a high-grade food court found at Brookfield Place, all of their shops are cashless because it is located in a rich neighborhood and surrounded by large business sectors. The store managers at Northern Tiger, Dos Toros, and Num Pang say that they don’t accept cash because they have to accommodate to their customers, who have higher incomes, credit cards, and bank accounts. 

And finally, Rolln, a sushi restaurant located at 38 E 23rd Street, also goes cashless and kiosks that allow customers to pay with a credit card or paying apps. One of the employees, William, says that they accept cash only on special occasions. 

“[Going cashless] makes it easier and convenient for us and is a simple, streamlined process,” William said. “We have not had enough cash transactions to justify to accept cash but we also want to give our customers some options.”

Whatever the case may be, Torres hopes that once the bill is passed, it will make other states aware of this issue and prevent businesses from not serving low income households and those who do not possess a bank account. 

Torres said, “The cashless business model is what we call an ‘exclusionary model.’ Once the bill is passed through legislation, hopefully it advances the movement to prohibit it [cashless businesses] across the country.” 

Leave a Reply