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NYC imposes $1,000 fine on businesses not accepting cash

nosheep | Pixabay

New York has pushed for all businesses to accept cash nationwide, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses in the state that don’t comply will be fined up to $1,000, according to the legislation that the City Council passed in January 2020.

This legislation was passed because of the rise in the number of businesses that started accepting only cashless methods of payment, such as debit and credit cards and payments through apps. As of Nov. 19, with the law going into effect, every business will have to accept cash payments.

Businesses must accept money in denominations of $20 or less, but if a business violates the law, they are expected to be fined up to $1,000. If violated again, they can be fined up to $1,500, CBS New York reported.

The bill also prohibits stores from imposing higher prices on those paying with cash.

Many New York City legislators and council members supported this legislation. The Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres, a lead supporter of the bill, said that not every person has access to some of the alternative forms of payment, such as credit cards. He said, “there are some constituents, particularly the elderly, who prefer cash,” per CBS New York.

Because of limitations and poverty, some see the refusal to accept cash and coins by businesses as a form of discrimination.

“Cashless stores are a problem for the estimated 8.4 million unbanked households in the United States,” the bill, Senate Bill S4691, states. For people who don’t have a bank to keep their money protected, a cashless city creates challenges.

Mary Lesage, a customer, is one of many others that also supports the bill. She told NBC New York that although she finds the cashless method as somewhat of a positive because of efficiency, she can see why it could create discrimination. “If it takes me five minutes longer to get lunch, that’s fine if it means everyone can get food,” Lesage said.

In contrast, some think that decisions about money should be left up for the businesses to decide themselves.

“We’re inserting ourselves into the business of business in a way that we don’t have a right to do in my opinion,” Councilman Kalman Yeger said, according to NBC New York.

Having no coins may be harmful for small businesses. In particular, laundromat owners have looked for quarters at places like car washes or have had to ask employees to monitor machines, Brian Wallace, president of the Coin Laundry Association said, according to The New York Times.

Reasons for why accepting cash is unsafe is because there’s more likelihood that an employee may steal from a business or that people will commit robberies, The New York Times wrote. On the other hand, no cash means quick transactions and it’s sanitary for employees.

Experts have said coronavirus can survive on paper money, but the risk of infection is low compared to person-to-person spread, the Associated Press reported, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people use touchless payment, if possible, over money or cards.

Since the pandemic, coins have been disappearing. Coins have decreased in circulation because even though there’s a presumed sufficiency of coins in the economy, “the slowed pace of circulation has meant that sufficient quantities of coins are sometimes not readily available where needed,” U.S. Mint said in a statement from July 23.

It’s been reported that the Federal Reserve rationed coins, the U.S. Mint had to step in and increase production of coins and that major chains like CVS have asked for “exact change,” as a result of the availability of coins, The New York Times said.

Anyone in New York City that witnesses a business violate the bill can report it either by calling 311 or reporting it online through the Department of Consumer Affairs, the enforcers of the bill.

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