Philadelphia bans cashless stores to protect ‘unbanked’ shoppers


In the age of cashless shopping and digital payments, Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney thinks otherwise. Cities have faced growing criticism over the number of retail stores that have eliminated the option to pay with cash, instead requiring a mobile or card transaction. Some transactions are reportedly exempt: parking lots, garages, businesses that offer memberships, rentals with security deposits, electronic transactions and goods sold only to staff.

As of July 1, any businesses failing to comply with the law will face fines of up to $2,000.

But with more than eight million households without bank accounts in the U.S., opposition to the practice believe it's prejudicial. "It just seemed to me, if not intentional, at least a form of discrimination", Philadelphia City Councilman William Greenlee told the Wall Street Journal.

Cashless policies are increasing in popularity in cities across America, as business owners say the switch from tangible cash to digital payment deters theft and increases efficiency.

'We are not asking them to do something they don't know how to do.

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Philadelphia may be the first to make the cashless move but it is unlikely to be the last.

In New York and San Francisco, initiatives are working their way through legislative channels, but no city council votes are scheduled for now. Additional publications say New Jersey is also attempting to banish cashless stores. The company reportedly plans to open up to 3,000 of these stores throughout the USA over the next few years.

Jeff Bezos' Amazon issued Philadelphia a warning for if the bill passed. Amazon has been expanding its cashierless stores, dubbed Amazon Go outlets, across the nation.

In 2018, Shakeshack announced plans to go cashless across the country.

Although the debate is still ongoing with the terms on the new law, one major company found this as an unfair process since their business were all out cashless and queue-less. In Philadelphia, the question appears poised to remain in place forever.