New York City Votes to Ban Cashless Stores

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New York City Votes to Ban Cashless Stores

01/24/2020
cash transaction at retail

NEW YORK — Don't expect to see complete frictionless checkout stores in the city anytime soon.

On Jan. 23, the New York City Council approved a measure requiring stores and restaurants to accept cash. By voting in favor of a ban against cashless stores, lawmakers said businesses that accept only credit and debit cards discriminate against consumers who lack bank accounts and credit cards, according to The Associated Press.

"This practice punishes the underbanked," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said before the council's 43-3 vote in favor of the bill.

Under the measure, businesses that refuse cash will be fined $1,000 for the first violation and $1,500 for subsequent violations. The ban, which is expected to go into effect by the end of the year, also prohibits stores from charging higher prices for paying in cash.

"Whatever your reasons, consumers should have the power to choose their preferred method of payment," City Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), who sponsored the legislation, said before the council's vote.

The legislation now heads to Mayor Bill de Blasio's desk. A spokeswoman for the mayor said that de Blasio supports the intent of the bill but that his administration will review it.

If the mayor signs the legislation into law, the city will join other major cities and some states that prohibit cashless stores, among them Philadelphia and New Jersey. 

In early 2019, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation prohibiting cashless stores. The law exempts certain sectors, like parking facilities, car rentals and airport vendors. 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, as Convenience Store News previously reported.

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