What Bitcoin Users Can Learn From Philadelphia Who is Outlawing Cashless Stores in the City


Today, there are quite a number of stores who would outrightly refuse to let you make a purchase in cash. You would compulsorily have to use a credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay or some other app if you’re interested in a purchase. These stores and companies, in general, seem to be doing a lot to make sure cash payments aren’t being used anymore. This is because cashless transactions make shopping a lot easier for the customer and a lot less tedious for the store.

The Problem With A Cashless Society

As much as this might be applauded as a step in the right direction many activists and even lawmakers seem to be kicking against the idea of a strictly cashless society, especially with stores turning down cash-paying customers. The argument is that this model significantly disregards customers in the low-income bracket who either have little or no access to a lot of credit or might not enough tech know-how, to fully embrace a completely cashless lifestyle.

Laws Preventing The Cashless Policy

Very recently, a bill was passed in Philadelphia prohibiting stores in the city from adopting a completely cashless policy. By July of 2019, every store in Philadelphia will compulsorily have to let their customers choose whether or not they want to pay using cash. However, the law may not cover some operations like companies that offer rental car services, parking lots and a few stores that may need a security down payment from their customers.

Philadelphia is now the very first city in the United States to officially go against stores that

operate with this policy. Another state that has specific laws against cashless policies as far back as 1978, is the state of Massachusetts.

In 2018, although without success, the city of Chicago also made a few moves to try to ban all cashless organizations in the state. Also, in February of 2019, New Jersey tried to make it illegal to run a cashless organization in the state. This is still pending as the governor of the state has not signed the bill yet. New York is also not left out as its lawmakers are also trying to make moves against the cashless policy.

Divided Opinions On The Matter

Many people have said it might be wrong for a city to simply decide to make a move like this on its own with others saying that the cashless policy is one that cannot really be fought. A member of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department was quoted expressing an opinion that

“modernization is going to happen with or without Philadelphia.”

Also, the American multinational company, Amazon, has also advised the city on this move, saying that doing this might stifle the company’s plot to situate an Amazon Go store in the city.

Why Philadelphia And Other Cities Are Fighting Cashless Businesses

The bill was introduced in Philadelphia, by a council member named William Greenlee. William said his decision for the bill was made when he found out that even shops as small and straightforward as simple as a sandwich vendor, have also decided to stop receiving cash.

He said

“Most of the people who don’t have credit tend to be lower income, minority, immigrants. It just seemed to me, if not intentional, at least a form of discrimination,”

said Greenlee. Now, he said, these stores have

“to do what businesses have been doing since Ben Franklin was walking the streets of Philadelphia.”

How widespread is the Cashless Policy?

Amazon, for example, is a strong proponent of the cashless policy. Presently, customers are asked to open Amazon accounts instead of using cash for payment because its bookstores do not receive cash. The accounts are expected to be connected to their credit cards so they can easily make payments with specifically designed machines provided. There also are many businesses including some restaurants in the New York City area that are completely cashless. Many of these businesses believe that

“digital payments are the future.”

One of these restaurants thinks that

“going cashless at our storefronts frees our employees from collecting, counting, recording, and depositing transactions,”

Furthermore, some staff at Cornwell Jackson – an accounting firm – has said:

“Cash transactions are a big source of loss when not monitored regularly against petty cash reconciliations…Cash is the most coveted form of theft, particularly for employees who suddenly experience an outside issue or concern that requires quick payment.”

Impediments to the Complete Implementation of A Cashless Society

It would seem, in all honesty, that the cashless policy might actually be disregarding people who earn very little. In Philadelphia, Reports have it that at least 400,000 people currently live below the poverty threshold in the city.

Also, a large percentage of these people do not even own bank accounts. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation also released a 2017 report, stating that 6.5 percent of all homes had little or no connection with the bank.

A shopper complaining about the policy said:

“Not everybody is able to buy a smartphone. But they are hungry too, and have $10 in their pockets and they would like to spend their legal American form of tender, known as cash, with you. As society and technology evolves, we must ask ourselves always, not just ‘can we’? But ‘should we’?”

There are also quite a few cities that have a large number of migrants that will be hit hard by such a policy. Los Angeles, for example, has a population where 8.6 percent do not have bank accounts. In places like this, many of them seem to be very reluctant regarding factors like requirements for minimum balance and also monthly charges.

Also speaking on this, Melany De La Cruz-Viesca who is the assistant director of the Asian American Studies Centre of UCLA also said:

“They pay for utilities, medical services, and their children’s education needs all through cash. “If we keep moving in this direction of a cashless system, what I see happening is a lot of the low-income immigrant groups in LA will fall out of the economy.”

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