Why We Shouldn't Allow Cashless Retail Stores | Op-Ed | NowThis

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25% of consumers are left behind when retailers refuse to accept cash in NYC — so NYC Councilmember Ritchie Torres wants to make cashless establishments illegal.
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Here’s how cashless retailers leave behind some consumers. Nearly 8.4 million U.S. households do not have a bank account.

Ritchie Torres, New York City council member: 'If you open a dollar bill, it reads “this note is legal tender for all debts, public or private”. The language could not be clearer, and yet even if you have this dollar bill, legal tender, with the full faith and credit of the United States behind you, there is a rising tide of businesses here in New York City and elsewhere in the country that refuse to accept cash, that only accept credit.

All of which raises the one-dollar question: what in fact does a cashless marketplace mean for society at large, what does it mean to those New Yorkers, those American, who have no access to credit? What if you’re homeless? What if you’re undocumented? What if you’re otherwise underbanked? If you have no access to credit, then you have no means of purchasing goods and services — purchasing food and clothing — in an increasingly cashless marketplace.

Now defenders of cashless businesses love to promote the myth that ‘everyone has credit,’ those who claim credit is universally within reach are living in a bubble of privilege far removed from the reality of widespread poverty in New York City. 25% of New Yorkers are underbanked.

So if a cashless business model appears to be neutral in theory, it has a real-world exclusionary effect on the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Making credit a requirement for consumption is a little like making identification a requirement for voting: the effect is the same, the disempowerment of America’s vulnerable communities.

But a cashless marketplace not only affects the poor. It has consequences for all of us. Even if you have access to credit, you might prefer cash as a mode of payment for reasons relating to privacy, because it does not involve the sharing of private information.

To confront the creeping cashlessness of the marketplace, I am introducing legislation that would require every retail and food establishment in the city to accept cash payment. In New York City, it will become unlawful for a business to discriminate based on mode of payment. If you have the money to buy food, clothing and shelter, then, under my bill, you will have the legal right to do so. Period.

Since 1964, with the enactment of the Civil Rights Act, there has been a legal guarantee against discrimination in public accommodations. Private businesses are public accommodations and therefore have an obligation to treat all of us equally, regardless of whether we pay by cash or by credit. Credit can be one option among many but it should never be the sole option.'

#NYC #Cashless #Stores #Retail #Economy #Inequality

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