Iowa State Fair will require vendors to accept both cards and cash

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In the tug-of-war over merchants refusing either cash or cards embroiling local governments in New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia, the Iowa State Fair is taking the middle ground. Beginning next year, all fair vendors will be required to accept cash, cards and contactless payments through First Data’s Clover devices.

Thrill ride operators at Iowa’s annual state fair—one of the nation’s largest—have supported contactless payments for RFID bracelets marketed at the fair since 2017, but by 2020 all food and drink concessions must accept payment cards along with cash, fair organizers said this month in a letter to vendors.

The Des Moines-based fair made the move to create a consistent experience for fairgoers, enabling them to pay however they want, while reducing the security challenges around handling cash, a fair spokesperson said via email.

About half of all vendors already accept card payments, and the new system also supports cash acceptance. About 30 ATMs are spread around the fairgrounds.

Certain vendors have been testing Clover Register in recent years, and all vendors have the option to test Clover services during the 11-day fair beginning Aug. 8, the spokesperson said. Vendors may opt for Register Lite or Full Register software, and may rent or buy Clover Mini devices, which the fair will distribute.

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