D.C. Businesses Required to Accept Cash Under New Bill

calendar iconDec 14, 2020


Responding to growing concern that a cashless society would leave many people unable to pay for essential goods and services, Washington D.C.’s Council has given preliminary approval to legislation that would require most of the U.S. capital’s retailers to accept cash.

With cash-friendly legislation already passed in Massachusetts and New Jersey, and cities such as New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco, and Congress considering a nationwide law, supporters are pleased to see the bill progressing in D.C. They note that beyond freedom of choice and privacy concerns around cashless payments, cash acceptance is a matter of social justice, pointing to data showing African Americans are far more likely to lack access to credit or debit cards than white Americans. Undocumented residents and younger people are also less likely to have access to banking facilities that would enable cashless payments.

Some businesses would be exempt—including parking lots—and the law would not be enforced until the present health state of emergency is over. However, the process is progressing with an anticipated rollout in the coming year.

The D.C. Council has voted unanimously on a bill to require most retail businesses in the District to accept cash, and it is now advancing to a second vote. If passed, it will be presented to the mayor for her signature and finally forwarded to Congress for a final review ahead of taking effect in 2021.

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2020