At a pop-up market in New York's Union Square Park this week, locals and tourists squeeze past each other as they make their way through rows of candy cane-striped tents, perusing merchants' products as hurried commuters coming and going from a nearby subway entrance dart through the crowd.

Most are just browsing, enjoying the sound of nearby carolers and the smells emanating from the booths of bakers and spice vendors. But for the shoppers who do make purchases, cash isn't the necessity that it once was at destinations like these.

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