The Philadelphia City Council has proposed a bill that would prohibit cashless retail locations.
If passed, the bill would forbid stores from refusing to accept cash or from charging customers a higher price for paying with cash, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. City Council members say the bill is an effort to curb discrimination against people with low incomes who do not own bank accounts. The Council held a hearing about the bill on Feb. 5.
As stores around the country continue the move to cashless in the wake of Amazon's popularity, concerns about discrimination against those that prefer or rely on cash are growing. According to the Pew Research Center, over a quarter of Philadelphians live under the poverty line, making Philadelphia one of the poorest cities in the country.
The move also comes after New Jersey passed a bill banning cashless stores within the state on Jan. 31.
Stores like Sweetgreen, a popular fast food choice near campus for Penn students, will also be affected if the bill is passed by City Council. Sweetgreen opened its location on 39th and Walnut streets in 2011 and went cashless in 2017.
Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman said the company went cashless to better attract millenials, its target audience. He claimed that the cashless payment system has helped reduce the armed robbery rates in the storefronts, as well as improved food hygiene now that employees do not have to handle both food and cash.
City Council member William Greenlee, who proposed the bill, told Philadelphia Magazine that despite the advantages of a cashless system, people should be able to buy a salad or sandwich without having to own a credit or debit card.
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