Lawmakers in New Jersey have passed a bill to ban stores from going cashless.
According to Chain Store Age, the legislation requiring all brick-and-mortar retailers to accept cash was unanimously approved by the N.J. Senate Commerce Committee. The bill, which is set to go before the full state Senate, excludes retailers inside airports from the cash requirement, as well as sales made online and by telephone or mail.
Businesses would receive a $2,500 fine for a first offense, and $5,000 for a second. Additional violations would fall under the consumer fraud act, which means retailers could face penalties of up to $20,000.
But companies like Amazon, as well as other major retailers, have spoken out about the legislation. The eCommerce giant operates a cashless Amazon Books store at Garden State Plaza, a mall in Paramus, N.J.
So far, only Massachusetts has a law banning cashless stores. New York City and Philadelphia are also reportedly considering similar bans.
The decision to go cashless has been a controversial one for many businesses. Earlier this year, Danny Meyer had to defend his restaurant group’s decision to test cashless transactions. Meyer owns Union Square Hospitality Group, and five of its restaurants are now cashless: Daily Provisions, Martina, Caffe Marchio, Vini e Fritti and Tacocina.
But Meyer said that the company isn’t trying to exclude prospective customers. Instead, the decision to go cashless was for safety reasons, as well as to boost efficiency.
“We know that some have raised concerns about the socioeconomic implications of operating a cashless business,” Meyer said in a blog post. “By not accepting cash, a restaurant may be excluding prospective guests who do not have a bank account. And we might be inconveniencing guests who simply don’t have their credit/debit on them at the time. That’s certainly not our aim.”
Another eatery, Hill Country in Washington D.C., also decided to stop accepting cash in August after it had been robbed several times.
“Managing cash and handling cash is time-consuming and cumbersome. We would rather see [our staff] focusing on serving our guests,” Marc Glosserman, founder and CEO of Hill Country said, adding that, as of the day restaurant officially pulled the plug, only 7 percent of its transactions were made in cash.