By Scott Calvert
The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Philadelphia is the first major U.S. city to ban cashless stores, placing it at the forefront of a debate that pits retail innovation against lawmakers trying to protect all citizens’ access to the marketplace.
Starting in July, Philadelphia’s new law will require most retail stores to accept cash. A New York City councilman is pushing similar legislation there, and New Jersey’s legislature recently passed a bill banning cashless stores statewide. A spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, declined to comment on whether he would sign it. Massachusetts has gone the farthest on the issue and is the only state that requires retailers to accept cash.
The measures seek to blunt a nascent trend that could rapidly accelerate thanks to Amazon.com Inc.’s power to shape nationwide retail trends. They represent an attempt to strike a balance between equity for lower-income consumers and merchants’ eagerness to embrace technological advances.
Businesses that have gone cashless point to greater efficiency for employees, who don’t have to make change or count cash at closing time, and improved safety because workers don’t have to carry large bank deposits.
But backers of measures forcing stores to accept cash say they worry about people who don’t have credit or debit cards. Supporters also say some consumers prefer to pay with currency for privacy reasons. …
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