Lawmakers Around the U.S. Push Back Against Cashless Stores

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Lawmakers Around the U.S. Push Back Against Cashless Stores

03/27/2019
cashless retail

NATIONAL REPORT — Frictionless checkout is picking up steam in the convenience channel, with several retailers including Cruizers, Family Express, Enmarket and 7-Eleven implementing the retail technology.

However, also picking up steam is the pushback by lawmakers who cite concerns over a cashless society as Amazon looks to grow its Amazon Go retail concept and its walk-in, walk-out technology.

On March 18, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation prohibiting cashless stores. The law exempts certain sectors, like parking facilities, car rentals and airport vendors. With the stroke of his pen, Murphy followed Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney who signed a measure into law prohibiting retailers from refusing to take cash or charging cash-paying customers a higher price.

The New Jersey legislation was effective immediately. Philadelphia's ordinance, which exempts certain businesses like parking garages and wholesale club stores, goes into effect in July.

Other states and municipalities have proposed similar legislation, including San Francisco, New York and Rhode Island.

According to a report by Bloomberg, those in favor of cashless checkout point to several benefits: better use of store employees, shorter checkout lines and theft reduction.

Many restaurants are no longer accepting cash because handling cash can add as much as 10 percent to overhead costs, Richard Crone, CEO of payments expert Crone Consulting LLC, told Bloomberg.

In five years, a third of all retail will be cashless, up from about 17 percent today. About 10 percent of brick-and-mortar stores will be cashless, up from less than 1 percent today, he said.

However, 6.5 percent of U.S. households were "unbanked" in 2017 and did not have a checking or savings account, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

In addition, 18.7 percent fell into the broad "underbanked" category, meaning they had a bank account but used at least one alternative service like money orders, check cashing or payday loans, the news outlet reported.