NYC Council member Ritchie Torres explained how cashless retailers leave behind some consumers.
“If you open a dollar bill, it reads, ‘This note is legal tender for all debts, public or private,’” he explained. “The language couldn’t be clearer, and yet even if you have this dollar bill, legal tender, with the full faith and credit of the United States behind it, there is a rising tide of businesses that refuse to accept cash, that only accept credit.”
Nearly 8.4 million U.S. households do not have a bank account and 19% are “underbanked,” relying on cash for daily purchases. Torres, says that cashless businesses promote the myth that everyone has credit, but those who do are likely far removed from the reality of widespread poverty.
“25% of New Yorkers are underbanked,” he stated. “So even if a cashless business model appears to be neutral on paper, it has a real-world exclusionary effect.”
Torres said making credit a requirement for consumption is a little like making identification a requirement for voting. The system ends up disempowering the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
In order to combat the cashless marketplace, Torres is introducing legislation that would require every retail and food establishment in the New York City to accept cash payment.