We received the following note from Samir Kadi, CEO of MTech Distributors, about efforts to ban cashless retail. "This year, Philadelphia became the first major city to ban cashless retail stores in an effort to protect consumer access to the marketplace. New Jersey, San Francisco, Massachusetts, and other cities and states followed suit. There are 11 bills currently approved or making their way through the legislative process, according to the ATM Industry Association. Two bills have also been introduced at the federal level.
"Statistics from RSA indicate cash is preferred for payment by over a quarter of the U.S. population. With roughly 80 million Americans reliant on physical tender for their day-to-day needs, recent innovations in digital payment technology could negatively impact unbanked and low-income consumers.
"According to the Pew Research Center, at least 10 percent of Americans don't use the Internet. Numbers are much higher among certain groups when factors like age, location, education, computer literacy and socioeconomic status are considered. Therefore, a substantial portion of the population – and consumer base – cannot access their bank accounts electronically. Others are not associated with financial institutions.
"Encouraging an environment in which consumer choice is limited and shoppers are segregated by their ability to maneuver a digital landscape is discriminatory. Also, IT failures caused by storms, power outages or emergency conditions, can cause widespread disruption – leaving merchants unable to process transactions for hours or even weeks. In these situations, cash becomes the only payment method for business and the only accessible tender for consumers.
"And with cybercrime on the rise, increasingly higher fees for merchants to accept credit and debit cards, and a substantial portion of the population unbanked or underbanked, regulations to protect cash usage are becoming critical.
"For merchants wishing to protect cash before it is mandated, the answer may be as simple as offering a cash discount program."
Do you agree or disagree that cash should remain in the payments mix? What other issues in payments matter most to you? Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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