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Cashless NYC businesses will face fines under City Council bill

The City Council will vote Tuesday on a measure that would require businesses to accept cash as payment. Some businesses, such as Dos Toros, claim going cashless has resulted in more efficiency and security. Photo Credit: Li Yakira Cohen

A vote is expected Tuesday on legislation that mandates stores and restaurants to accept cash payments.

The City Council will vote Tuesday on a measure that would require businesses to accept cash as payment. Some businesses, such as Dos Toros, claim going cashless has resulted in more efficiency and security.
The City Council will vote Tuesday on a measure that would require businesses to accept cash as payment. Some businesses, such as Dos Toros, claim going cashless has resulted in more efficiency and security. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

The City Council will vote Tuesday to decide whether cash will remain king for city businesses.

The Council’s consumer affairs committee voted Monday to approve a bill that would mandate stores and restaurants to accept cash payments. The bill, which was introduced by Councilman Ritchie Torres, was created in response to a trend of businesses only accepting credit card, debit card or other digital payment options.

"If you have the money you should be able to use it," Torres said in a statement. " Not everyone accesses credit or debit, but everyone uses cash at some time in their life.”

Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing chair Councilman Rafael Espinal, who is one of the bill’s 22 co-sponsors, said such policies disproportionately and negatively impact low-income New Yorkers who do not have any credit card or banks accounts. His office said that 12% of New Yorkers in 2013 did not have bank accounts.

"When attitudes toward cash equate it with being dirty, antiquated, or unsophisticated, we risk stigmatizing the communities who rely on it,” Espinal said at the hearing.

Under the legislation, stores and restaurants would be fined $1,000 for refusing to accept cash from a customer or for charging cash-paying customers a higher price than card- or digital-paying customers. Businesses would be able to refuse payments in bills larger than $20.

During a hearing on the bill in February, business owners for cashless establishments, such as Dos Toros, contended that going cashless provided their businesses with more efficiency and security. 

Dos Toros did not return a message for comment. 

The bill does have exemptions for some stores and restaurants. Businesses that are "membership-based," such as gyms, and online purchases would be excluded from the new rules.

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