Philadelphia has become the first U.S. city to ban cashless stores, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The law will take effect in July, but there are some exceptions. According to The Wall Street Journal, it won’t apply to parking garages or lots, businesses like Costco that sell through a membership model, rental-car companies, or hotels since they often require credit-card deposits for accidents.
This decision comes as debates around cashless stores are taking place across the country. In New York City, councilman Ritchie Torres has introduced a similar bill, citing concerns for “New Yorkers who face historically rooted barriers to both credit and banking”, as he told The New York Times.
Similar concerns are what prompted the decision in Philadelphia. Although some see the law as going against “modernization”, the reality is not everyone has access to cashless payment options. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that 26% of Philadelphians are living below the poverty line and many don’t have bank accounts.
Lacking bank accounts isn’t unique to Philadelphia alone. In 2017, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 6.5 percent of American households are “unbanked”, meaning they don’t have a checking or savings account. The University of Pennsylvania’s Public Policy initiative noted there’s a link between poverty and being unbanked.
There’s nothing stopping stores from still taking credit cards or other forms of cashless payment. But, this law will help make all stores throughout Philadelphia accessible once again.