New Jersey could force brick-and-mortar stores to accept cash – and apply $2500, $5000 or $20.000 fines for the first, second or third offenses respectively – though the bill advancement through a State Commerce Committee was delayed due to the involvement of giants Amazon and Walmart. State Senator Nellie Pou sponsoring the legislation, commented that she would allow extra time to develop other possible solutions for unbanked populations. Moreover, should the bill be approved, it would affect the current business of retailers that have already gone cashless.
There is currently no federal legislation in the U.S. regarding cash acceptance, so each State can independently govern the issue. The cashless trend is already gradually being adopted by chains such as Walmart, Starbucks and Amazon and is fully integrated in the Sweetgreen salad chain’s policy. To date, the only state prohibiting the refusal of cash as payment is Massachusetts.
Though some companies may find cashless policies beneficial for their operations, statistics have been recording a steady 5% increase in cash circulation annually for the past 20 years. Cash remains the most popular payment method in the United States, representing 31% of consumer transactions. According to a CreditCards.com survey, cash is also preferred for purchases under $10 and is largely favored for security and privacy reasons.
The bill will probably only be discussed in December, but if it passes, retailers would be obliged to accept both cash and card payments, no matter what the transaction amount. This would eliminate discrimination towards unbanked customers and serve those who prefer digital payments.