The fight against cashless stores has been on the rise as cities like Philadelphia pass legislation to ban them. The push to ban cashless stores is a problem for Amazon Go locations, which are centered around having no cashiers or checkout lines.
An Amazon spokesperson reportedly tried swaying Philadelphia’s decision by saying a Go store wouldn’t open there if the bill passed. Obviously, the tactic didn’t work. Now, it seems Amazon executives are aware they’re fighting a losing battle.
According to CNBC, Steve Kessel, Amazon’s senior vice president of physical stores, told employees that the company is planning “additional payment mechanisms” at its Go stores. The outlet reported that was in response to a question about how Amazon plans to address “discrimination and elitism” within its stores.
Supporters of cashless stores have argued that it’s just modernization. However, cashless bans aren’t making stores only accept cash. All they’re doing is making sure everyone has the option to shop somewhere.
After all, not everyone has access to bank accounts and debit cards. A 2017 report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found that 6.5 percent of American households are “unbanked.”
Even if it’s not the outright intention, cashless models can essentially ban poor people from shopping at certain locations. That’s been a key concern for politicians like Ritchie Torres, a councilman from the Bronx who introduced a bill banning cashless stores in NYC.
Although Amazon only has ten Go stores, Bloomberg reported that it’s considering opening up 3,000 locations by 2021. Right now, there are no details on how long it will take Amazon Go stores to accept cash, but a spokesperson confirmed with CNBC that the company is working on it.