New York City Bans Cashless Businesses Under the Guise of Social Justice

On Thursday, January 23, 2020, the New York City Council voted to ban businesses in the city from only accepting credit, debit, or digital payments.

This ban was passed in light of concerns that these policies discriminated against lower-income customers.

“Whatever your reasons, consumers should have the power to choose their preferred method of payment,” councilman Ritchie Torres, who wrote up the bill, said during a news conference Thursday, according to an ABC News report.

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“The marketplace of the future must accommodate the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers,” he continued.

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According to New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs data released in October, 11.2 percent of residents don’t have a bank account and roughly 22 percent use alternative banking methods such as check-cashing establishments.

The measure will go into effect 90 days following its signing. Additionally, it will also fine first-time violators $1,000. The measure creates exemptions for online and phone purchases as well as businesses with onsite machines that can load cash onto prepaid cards. Further, stores have the freedom to reject bill denominations over $20.

The bill has yet to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio but a spokesman for his office claimed that he supports the measures and has intentions of signing it.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, one of the leading House Democrats and a native of Brooklyn, praised the ban’s passage.

“Cashless stores exclude the often vulnerable and un/under-banked by using a credit or debit card to screen potential customers that just want to buy a salad,” he tweeted.

On March 7, 2019, Philadelphia became the first major American city to ban cashless businesses, with San Francisco following in Philadelphia’s footsteps in May.

This is an egregious violation of property rights, as businesses should have the freedom to have their own payment methods in place and reject certain types of customers.

Some businesses will accept cash, others will prefer digital payments.

It’s ultimately up to the property owners, not the government, to decide how they will conduct business.

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