New York bans cashless stores in major blow to digital retail payments

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Cashless retail stores are now officially banned in New York City in a dramatic shift away from digital payments.

New York’s city council approved new legislation almost unanimously last week which will see any retailer which doesn’t accept physical currency face a significant fine.

 

The bill, which was spearheaded by councilman Ritchie Torres, is now awaiting approval from New York mayor Bill De Blasio before being enforced across the city.

Prior to the vote, which was passed with a 43 – 3 majority, De Blasio said he supported “the intent” of the legislation.

The ban is designed to prevent what some see as discrimination against low income shoppers with limited or no access to bank accounts, aimed at tackling “the excesses of the digital economy”.

“Consumers should have the right to choose if they want to pay in cash or not,” Torres told the New York Times.

READ MORE: Tesco makes “Scan as you Shop” system cashless sparking customer outrage

In April 2019 Amazon was forced to begin accepting cash payments in its Amazon Go grocery stores, specifically engineered to do away with tills and physical payments, after the same legislation was approved in Philadelphia, New Jersey and San Francisco.

President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Stuart Appelbaum said: “Forcing customers to use only credit or debit is a discriminatory business model that disadvantages low-income people, people of color, undocumented immigrants and seniors,”

“Communities of color in New York City are more than twice as likely to be unbanked and are far less likely to host a branch of a bank than the national average.”

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s scraps UK’s first cashierless grocery store admitting “not all our customers are ready”

Many in the retail sector have hailed the removal of physical cash payments as a natural evolution, taking their cues from China where 90 per cent of city dwellers pay using digital wallets like Alipay.

However, many attempts at introducing cashless stores here in the UK have also been met with backlashes from customers.

In September Sainsbury’s announced that it had scrapped the UK’s first ever cashierless grocery store after a three-month trial admitting “not all our customers are ready for totally till-free” shopping.

Elsewhere Tesco announced earlier this month that it planned to make its “Scan as you Shop” system cashless.

Despite 90 per cent of payments via the initiative already being made digitally, shoppers took to social media to express their outrage at not being allowed to choose.

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