Philadelphia: New bill protecting the public from cashless overhype

calendar iconMar 11, 2019

The City of Philadelphia has taken it upon itself to do what the Federal Law has never needed to do, until now. Philly’s recently passed bill will see discrimination against cash payments become a thing of the past, starting June 1st.

In an effort to protect Philadelphia’s cash-paying customers, the largest city in the American state of Pennsylvania has passed a law that will see cashless businesses in the area re-embracing cash payments.

The legislation comes in response to the problematic war on cash and the socio-economic division it creates. Remember, the argument about keeping cash is not about refusing cards or online payments but about keeping cash as an option across the payments landscape.

“It’s important to recognize the fact that not everyone has access to banks or lines of credit,”
"Nellie PouState SenatorOne of the sponsors of the bill in New Jersey

The Bill No. 180943 will further refine the 1993 Fair Practices Ordinance, which protects against unlawful discrimination. It was introduced in October 2018 by Councilman At-Large William K. Greenlee who says:

“Cash is the legal tender of the United States. I have noticed an increase in businesses requiring patrons to use credit and debit cards as payments. This practice negatively affects poor people and immigrants who are unable to obtain credit cards, and do not have a bank account. Businesses who use credit only are sending a message to poor people that they do not want their business. People should have a right to use cash if they so choose.” Source: PHLCouncil

With 1.6 million people, Philadelphia is home to almost 12% of Pennsylvania’s 12.8 million residents. Within the city, a 26% poverty rate means that officials must be concerned with financial inclusion for the unbanked in particular.

“But until we can resolve the hurdles facing the unbanked, we need to remove any obstacles that could prevent them from enjoying all amenities of this city,”
"Mike DunnSpokesman for the cityAs quoted by The New York Times

This Philadelphia bill is the latest in a string of cities pushing back against the war on cash. Recently, New Jersey passed a similar bill. New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington have recently introduced their own cash-protecting bills but these have yet to come into effect.

Massachusetts is the only state that requires, by law, for businesses to accept cash. However, with more and more cashless restaurants popping up around Boston, there seems to be confusion surrounding whether the 1978 law applies to fooderies.

Excerpt from NYTimes article

...A Pew Research Center study released in December found that roughly 29 percent of American adults say they make no purchases using cash in a typical week, an increase from 24 percent in 2015. Those with a household income above $75,000 were much more likely to say they did not typically use cash, the study found. The study found that African-Americans and older people were more likely to use cash.

Critics of cashless stores say they are exclusionary by nature, as low-income people may not have bank accounts because of fees and minimum balance requirements. (A report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 2017 estimated that 6.5 percent of American households were “unbanked.”) Critics have also raised concerns about privacy and data security...

Read New York Times article here

One thing is for sure, the growing backlash is a sign the public is waking up to the dangers of a forced cashless existence.

Last Updated: Nov 21, 2019