Philadelphia City Council members are set to consider a bill on Tuesday that would ban cashless stores in the city.
The bill proposes to prohibit retail locations from refusing to accept cash or from charging cash-paying customers a higher price. The proposal would not apply to transactions made by phone, mail, or online. Violators could be fined up to $2,000.
The council’s Committee on Law and Government is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill at 10 a.m. Tuesday in room 400 of City Hall. The committee could then vote to advance the legislation for the City Council’s consideration.
As technology gives consumers more ways to pay, including with their smartphones, some businesses have gone cashless to improve efficiency and reduce the risk of robbery, among other reasons. A few businesses in Philadelphia have gone cashless in recent years, notably the salad chain Sweetgreen and Bluestone Lane, a coffee shop. Representatives for both businesses did not immediately return requests for comment on Monday.
Councilman William Greenlee, who introduced the bill, said he is concerned that cashless stores are discriminating against those who don’t have a bank account.
Nearly 6 percent of the Philadelphia region was unbanked in 2017 and roughly 22 percent were considered “underbanked” because they have bank accounts but still use alternative financial services, such as check cashers, according to the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation.
Americans are less reliant on paper bills and coins, according to Pew Research Center survey released in December. The survey of 10,683 U.S. adults found that 29 percent said they made no purchases using cash during a typical week, up from 24 percent in 2015. Likewise, those who made all or almost all of their weekly purchases with cash dropped from 24 percent in 2015 to 18 percent today, according to the survey.