Torres says establishments that don’t accept cash could be discriminating against communities that have difficulty accessing credit cards. Violators would face fines of up to $250 for a first offence and up to $500 for additional violations.
In an interview with Grub Street on Tuesday, Torres explained why there is discrimination in refusing universal paper money.
"Cashlessness seems benign...but when you reflect on it, the insidious racism that underlies a cashless business model becomes clear."
Torres expects a fight from business communities, who are excited to tap into cashless hype, but Torres' answers inspire serious reflection.
Grub Street: So many food business owners justify a cashless model by saying that their customers all pay with cards, anyway, and that the only people who it impacts are tourists, or people who don’t like it on principal.
Ritchie Torres: The claim that this policy had no real-world implications is irrelevant. The fact that you are foreclosing the possibility of a cash transaction is a problem. Say I ran a restaurant where my customer base was exclusively white. Does that mean I should adopt a policy where I prohibit black people or Latinos from patronizing it?
"In some ways, making a card a requirement for consumption is analogous to making identification a requirement for voting. The effect is the same: It disempowers communities of color."