Good news for Big Apple ATM operators… the New York City Council has moved to ban cashless-only establishments. The legislation prohibits stores, restaurants and other retail outlets from refusing to accept cash.
The bill – still in need of the mayor’s signature to go into effect – was sponsored by 23 council members headed by Councilman Ritchie Torres of the 15th District in the Central Bronx, and passed by a wide 43-3 margin on Jan. 23. “We are reining in the excesses of the digital economy,” Torres explained.
The measure is said to go a long way toward ending discrimination against the city’s un-banked citizens. And, too, it follows a national trend that has already seen New Jersey, Philadelphia and San Francisco approve similar measures in 2019. Far ahead of the curve, Massachusetts has had a law on the book requiring retailers to accept cash and credit since 1978.
“This is great news for consumers throughout New York City who will continue to have the option to pay with cash for goods and services at retail,” said NAC’s executive director Bruce Renard. “New York is just the latest in a number of other cities and states that recognize the importance of maintaining a cash option. Cash is the only form of payment that is universally accepted, can’t be hacked and works in times of public emergency. Cash also works to preserve privacy in purchasing choices. Thank you, New York for helping to lead the way.”
Under the new legislation, those businesses that refuse to accept cash can face fines of up to $1,000 for a first violation and $1,500 for each additional offense. However, those business that offer devices that convert cash to cards are exempt, providing they do not charge a fee for such a conversion. Transactions taking place completely online, by phone or mail are excluded.
The bill has yet to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. A spokesperson for the mayor said that while the mayor supports the legislation’s intent, he still plans to review prior to signing. Once signed by the mayor, the law will go into effect in nine months. A full copy of the bill is available here.