Sorry—plastic or mobile payments only. This is a merchant checkout counter-reply that a U.S. consumer rarely hears. As the following Bankrate article reports, there are two passionate sides to the issue of whether retailers should go cashless.
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.
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.
No doubt some retailers and restaurants do not see many cash payments—especially higher priced stores and fine dining restaurants. But for other U.S. merchants such as C-stores, fast food, and casual dining, consumers have voted with their wallets and say they want the option of paying with cash. Shake Shack experimented with a no-cash store in midtown Manhattan and abandoned the test due to reduced sales. So don’t expect consumers to accept a one-size-fits all payments approach. Is cash being used less? Yes. Will cash be eliminated? No.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Director, Merchant Services at Mercator Advisory Group