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Philadelphia Becomes the the First Major U.S. City to Ban Cashless Stores and Restaurants

March 8, 2019, 12:20 AM UTC

As the backlash against cashless stores is growing, Philadelphia is set to become the first major U.S. city to require most shops and restaurants to accept cash.

After the city council passed a law last month to ban cashless stores, Mayor Jim Kenney made it official when he signed the legislation. Business owners have until July 1 to become compliant, or risk fines of up to $2,000.

Lawmakers who supported the ban said cashless stores were unintentionally discriminating against people in the community who don’t have debit or credit cards, since they would be unable to make purchases. Cash is also an appealing choice for people who want to keep their purchasing history private from retailers, credit card companies, or perhaps even spouses. It also negates any potential risks, in the event a company is breached and customer information is leaked to hackers.

While cash and coins are legal tender, there is no federal law that requires businesses to accept them, according to the Federal Reserve’s website. Many businesses have gone cashless, or are experimenting with the concept. Sweetgreen, a national salad chain with locations in Philadelphia, does not accept cash. Amazon Go, a chain of convenience stores in Washington, California, and Illinois also has a no cash policy.

It’s not just Philadelphia that wants to keep cash as an option. Similar proposals have been discussed in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Massachusetts is already ahead of the curve and has a law that has been around for years that requires all stores to accept cash and credit.