The cashless revolution is over New York—and for good reason.
Cashless retail shops, restaurants, fast casual and upscale eateries alike have been scrutinized in New York City for banning cash payments for a while, but now, all of the above will have to accept cash later on this year under legislation the City Council passed today.
Why? Because going cash-free sends a message to consumers that if you aren’t in a position to have a bank backing you, you can’t come here, city officials say.
Those who have messy financial pasts (and are rejected from opening a bank account), the homeless, international tourists paying hefty bank exchange rates, and kids or young adults not yet in the credit-wielding world are inhibited the most by cashless shops.
Councilman Ritchie Torres took to Twitter to post the news early Thursday morning about the new 2020 legislation: "@NYCCouncil will today pass legislation to require all food & retail stores to accept cash. No longer in NYC will brick-and-mortar businesses have the right to refuse cash & effectively discriminate against customers who lack access to credit and debit."
The Twitter world responded quickly and pretty unanimously to his announcement. Many tweeted things like "cant even believe thats a thing...horrible!" and “Thank you for persisting and delivering on this issue!"
The popular chain Sweetgreen has already nixed their cashless policy after receiving major backlash in 2019. But what were their reasons for ditching the hard cash in the first place anyway?
“We believed there were many advantages that would benefit the sg community, including employee safety — reducing incidents of robbery, sustainability — fewer armored cars and less paper, and efficiency — it would speed up service in our restaurants,” they explained in an announcement last spring that they were allowing consumers to pay with green again.
Now, many other swanky chains and establishments known to be cashless like burrito mini-chain Dos Toros, vegan fast-casual By Chloe and Daily Provisions, will have to follow suit.
This law has surely been a longtime coming, too. In November 2018, Torres explained in a quote to Grub Street: “There are hundreds and thousands of New Yorkers who may have no permanent address or home, and many New Yorkers who are underbanked, either because of poverty or because they lack documentation. Requiring a card is erecting a barrier for low-income New Yorkers—period."
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