Cashless stores

I’ve been seeing posts about various cities considering legislation to ban cashless stores.

The first post I saw was Philadelphia banning cashless stores (following in the footsteps of Massachusetts which has apparently banned them since 1978, that’s foresight I guess).

Sorry Amazon: Philadelphia bans cashless stores

Just following that I saw a post on HN linking to a City Lab post saying New York is considering similar legislation.

As More Cities Ban Cashless Businesses, New York Wants to Follow

I usually go cashless, primarily using cards or mobile payment methods. I really don’t like dealing with cash, although I realise the benefits of privacy and convenience when using it.

However I don’t think cashless stores are a good thing. Cash exists as a low barrier way to handle money. You don’t need a bank account. You don’t need a smartphone. You don’t need internet to conduct a cash transaction. And I think by going cashless - stores are in essence discriminating against the poorer segments of society.

So logically, you’d think I’m in favour of such legislation. But I’m not so sure.

Handling cash is generally much riskier than handling transactions via card or mobile payment methods. As a capitalist at heart, I’m in favour of letting businesses decide how they are to accept payment. High-end brands and many bespoke brands employ a great amount of discretion when choosing their customers and I think they should be free to do so.

I’m quite conflicted and I don’t think this is necessarily a good move to make.

Written on March 9, 2019