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March 07, 2019

Philadelphia becomes first U.S. city to ban cashless stores

Mayor Kenney signed off on the new law, which will take effect July 1

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Philadelphia is the first major city in the U.S. to ban cashless stores. Mayor Jim Kenney signed the ban on cashless businesses bill on Thursday, which will restrict retailers and restaurants from not accepting cash as payment in their establishments and imposes fines on those that do not comply.

The law will take effect July 1, according to reports.

MORE NEWS: Mayor Kenney's proposed budget includes $200 million to repave hundreds of miles of city streets

The legislation is a response to a growing trend nationally among restaurants and retailers the refuse cash for food, goods and services, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's a direct hit for Philly stores like the fast-casual restaurant Sweetgreen (for payment only via app or card) and coffee shop Bluestone Lane (for payment only by card). 

Amazon was also reportedly worried about the ban because of its own plans to bring brick-and-mortar retail stores to Philadelphia, which would be payment by plastic only.

Similar legislation to ban the cash-free option has been introduced in New York city and New Jersey. 

Lawmakers and supporters of the bill argue that banning cash in stores and restaurants is classist and discriminates against minority groups of people, like senior citizens and the homeless.

The bill was passed in City Council last month after City Councilman Bill Greenlee introduced the legislation in the fall. It will go into effect on June 1, according to the Wall Street Journal, and will not only prohibit cashless stores in Philadelphia but also stop business owners from imposing a surcharge on customers using cash. Businesses who violate the law face fines up to $2,000.

“It’s really a fairness issue. It’s equal access is what we’re trying to get,” Greenlee told CBS in February.

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