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NYC set to ban cashless restaurants

The city will join New Jersey, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, San Francisco and other jurisdictions in requiring restaurants to accept cash payments.
Photograph: Shutterstock

New York City is expected to pass legislation today that bans restaurants and other businesses from refusing to accept cash as a form of payment from customers. 

The measure is intended to prevent consumers who can’t afford a credit card or mobile phone to be effectively blocked from frequenting some establishments. Many of those places are fast-casual restaurants that have limited customers to payment via card, phone or tag because the transactions take less time. Cashiers are spared the seconds needed to count a cash payment and any change the customer is due.

Advocates also contend that a no-cash policy better safeguards employees because there’s nothing for robbers to attempt to steal.

The advantages have prompted operators such as Dos Toros, Sweetgreen, Shake Shack and Union Square Hospitality to eliminate cash payments at certain outlets. 

“While only a small percentage of restaurants have gone cashless for the operational and safety benefits, this ban will pose challenges to those businesses that will have to begin accepting cash,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group representing restaurants, taverns and clubs, said in a statement. 

He suggested that city officials should focus instead on helping more New Yorkers afford credit cards and other alternative payment options. “Technology is advancing and mobile payments are the way of the future,” Rigie said. 

The legislation protecting cash payments was introduced in the City Council by Council Member Ritchie Torres, a Democrat from the Bronx. It is widely expected to pass. 

Similar bans are already in effect in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Philadelphia and San Francisco. 

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