Digital Payments

San Francisco To Bar Cashless-Only Stores

San Francisco is joining Philadelphia and New Jersey in barring cashless retailers from the city.

According to a report in the Associated Press, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the issue at a meeting later Tuesday (May 7). It’s expected to pass since close to all the eleven members of the Board of Supervisors are listed as sponsors or co-sponsors to the ban.

Under the rule, all physical stores will be required to accept cash as a payment method. “I just felt it wasn’t fair that if someone wanted to buy a sandwich in a store, and they had cash, that they would be turned away,” said Supervisor Vallie Brown, who introduced the legislation in an interview with the AP. “We also have our homeless population. They’re not banked.” While San Francisco is home to a slew of tech workers who are paid well to work for the likes of Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, and Google, there are many low-income residents in the city and more than 4,000 homeless people. They don’t have the money to open bank accounts thus can’t make purchases with digital methods.  The rule, if it goes into effect, calls on physical stores to accept cash for goods and services. Ride-hailing companies, temporary pop up stores, food trucks and other internet-only businesses would be exempt from the rule.

San Francisco will join New Jersey and Philadelphia, which already passed laws that require merchants to accept cash. The AP noted New York City is expected to follow suit soon.  Citing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the AP reported 17 percent of African American households and 15 percent of Latino households are unbanked. Cash is also a preferred payment method among those with banks accounts who don’t want the digital trail.

The move on the part of the cities and states is aimed at pushing back from Amazon Go Stores, which came online last year and have zero cashiers checking customers out. The stores rely on mobile phones, sensors and other camera technology to track what a customer purchases without the need to check out with a cashier. In April Amazon agreed to accept cash at a slew of its cashless stores but didn’t say when the change would happen.

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