Payment Bill Seeks to Empower Americans with Choice in Payments
A bipartisan bill aimed at preserving freedom of choice in payments has been reintroduced to the United States Senate. If passed, it will prohibit businesses from refusing cash payments, or charging a higher price to use cash.
The Payment Choice Act—first introduced in 2021 with support from both sides of the political aisle—was reintroduced this June by Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr, who remains passionate about legally securing the right of every American to choose how they pay for goods and services.
Every American should have the right to pay in cash. There are too many stores and businesses that want to reject it in favour of digital payments. But cash is the only option available for millions of Americans to pay for food, housing, and other essentials.
According to data published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in late 2022, around 4.5 percent of U.S. households—representing approximately 5.9 million people—are unbanked, meaning that no one within them has a checking or savings account at either a bank or a credit union.
Beyond the people who are completely excluded by cashless businesses, there are many more who choose cash for privacy. While cashless transactions are tracked—meaning companies have access to full details of when, where and how goods or services were purchased—cash can be used anonymously. This has particular value for people at high risk of discrimination, and also for those concerned about abuse of their personal data, such as fraud, or sale to unknown third parties.
Rep. Payne, Jr. additionally notes that even those who regularly choose cashless payments will have need of cash at times when electricity or internet are unavailable, with a press release from his office saying: ‘If a hurricane or other catastrophe were to knock out a power grid anywhere in the country, Americans would not be able to pay for critical, life-saving supplies to protect them and their families.’ He also raises the cultural value of cash as a reminder of American history and identity.
I am concerned about the safety and privacy of the data that companies are collecting from consumers during routine purchases. Besides, American cash is a lesson in American history. A few years ago, we fought over who should be represented on our currency. Now, companies want to eliminate currency completely.