Cashless Retailers Are Becoming More Common — And It’s Triggering A Heated Debate And Some

By Mary Wisniewski

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The discussions on the pros and cons are mounting ahead of no-cash policies becoming more widely embraced here in the United States.

If you’re buying an ice cream at Van Leeuwen, a taco at Dos Toros or a salad at Sweetgreen, you might encounter something unexpected when it’s time to pay: your cold hard cash getting declined.

In other countries, like Sweden, this would feel like an ordinary day. But in the U.S., the experience could feel extraordinary. If anything, you might expect a cash-only sign.

Here, cashless retailers are rare. And yet, concerns surrounding no-cash policies are already sparking a fiery debate and some resistance. It’s been an illegal practice in Massachusetts for decades. And in July, D.C. city councilman David Grosso co-introduced a bill that would ban cashless restaurants.

The discussions on the pros and cons are mounting ahead of no-cash policies becoming more widely embraced.

“It’s the sort of thing that might just sneak up on people,” says Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. “Before you know it, you may have a trend and not have rights in place to protect people who want to pay in other ways.”

The pros and cons of cashless stores
Supporters of cash-free retailers say it saves people time: the checkout line moves faster, and employees no longer have to count the bills at the end of their shifts or deposit the funds at the bank. They argue that eliminating cash is safer for their employees and that it is more hygienic.

Those opposing the cash ban believe the model discriminates against consumers without bank accounts or credit cards. They also worry that it eliminates a payment method some people use to budget or rely on to remain off the grid from prying eyes.

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