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How Retailers Can Help Protect Consumers’ Right to Cash

Did you hear the one about the Amazon retail store that wouldn’t accept US currency? Sadly, that story isn’t the start of a joke. The first 11 Amazon Go stores were originally designed to provided “streamlined” payments. What they really meant was cashless access, potentially removing over 8.4 million Americans from their pool of potential customers. Citizens that do not have bank accounts, debit or credit cards.

Unfortunately, Amazon is not the only retailer that has experimented with cashless operations. Dining chains, coffee shops and other establishments are turning away customers that attempt to pay with legal US tender. And, while there are plenty of complaints on social media, it is not currently a federal law that retailers must accept cash.

Why Does Cash Matter for Retailers?

Merchants that are moving to cashless operations often reference the costs of cash-handling, the potential risks to employees handling quantities of cash, and the increased speed of customer service in cashless transactions. The assumption is that digital payments are less risky, save money and make customers happy. But are these retailers considering all of the angles?

  • Americans want cash to stay an option. More than half (66%) of US citizens see cash as a secure and private payment option. Over a quarter (31%) prefer to pay cash for personal services or food (28%).

  • Generation Z prefers to pay in cash. Despite their heavy smartphone use and occasionally mind-boggling TikTok challenges, the up-and-coming generation’s top payment choice is cash.

  • Digital payments don’t work in a crisis. Let’s say your business DOES go cashless. What happens when the electricity goes out? In nearly every crisis over the past decade, affected residents have had to rely on hard currency to pay for goods and services until things began to return to normal.

  • Digital payments often end up being more expensive. Maybe it can be a bit of a pain to count out change or balance cash drawers. But at least a cash payment means the business keeps the entirety of the sale. Digital payments, on the other hand, eat a portion of revenues with every single transaction. And those cents add up to dollars fast.

So, What’s Next?

The good news is a large number of states have been working hard to pass legislation to protect consumer payment choice. Today states such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey have passed laws requiring retail establishments to accept cash. Even major cities such as Philadelphia, Miami and San Francisco have passed cashless bans.

Today, the “Payment Choice Act of 2022,” S.4497, has been presented in the US Congress to provide “every consumer the right to use cash at retail businesses who accept in-person payments.” As of July 15th, the proposal has made it into the National Defense Act.

Retailers can help protect their own businesses as well as their customer’s right to payment choice in a variety of ways, including:

  • Contacting your Senators and Representatives in support of the Payment Choice Act.

  • Save yourself and your customers time and money by continuing to offer cash transactions at the point-of-sale.

  • Providing additional cash access (and potential added business revenue) with an on-site ATM.

Discover how your business could qualify for a free, turn-key ATM. Contact Heath ATM today!

Give us a call at (800) 849-3029 or email ustoday!


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