Why one lawmaker seeks a federal ban on cashless businesses

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A New Jersey congressman has proposed a bill that would ban businesses that eschew cash, with the goal of creating uniformity as more states and cities consider bills banning cashless retail operations.

Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., recently introduced the Payment Choice Act in the U.S. House of Representatives to prohibit retail businesses from refusing cash for payments.

The bill, introduced May 9, was referred to the House Financial Services Committee for discussion.

“A federal bill will help ensure that payment choice is uniform across the country and it will allow multi-jurisdiction businesses to institute a single policy across their geographic divisions,” Payne said in an emailed statement.

Payne noted that millions of low-income consumers lack bank accounts and access to credit and debit cards, and the growing number of businesses that don’t accept cash — like the 17-unit Dos Toros quick-service restaurant chain with outlets in New York and Chicago — are creating hardships for those citizens.

“There is a real risk that cashless businesses will effectively shut out the 6.5% of U.S. households that do not affiliate with a bank,” Payne said.

The pushback against cashless businesses already have forced Amazon to alter its cashless business model for its Amazon Go convenience stores and its cashless bookstores, with Amazon this month announcing it now accepts cash for the first time at both.

Other restaurants that previously forbade cash, including Washington, D.C.-based sweetgreen, also said they now accept cash at some locations.

New Jersey banned cashless businesses in March, and similar bills are pending in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

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