The New York City Council on Thursday voted to ban businesses in the city from only accepting credit, debit or digital payments, amid concerns such policies discriminate against lower-income customers.
“Whatever your reasons, consumers should have the power to choose their preferred method of payment,” councilman Ritchie Torres, who drafted the bill, said at a news conference Thursday, according to ABC News.
“The marketplace of the future must accommodate the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers,” he added.
Data from the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs released in October indicated that 11.2 percent of residents have no bank account and about 22 percent use alternative banking such as check-cashing establishments.
The measure, which will take effect 90 days after being signed, fines first-time violators $1,000. It includes exemptions for online and phone purchases as well as businesses with an onsite machine that can load cash onto prepaid cards. Stores will also be free to decline denominations over $20.
The bill still awaits Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature but a spokeswoman for his office said he supports the measure and intends to sign it.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a Brooklyn native and one of the highest-ranking New Yorkers in Congress, praised the measure’s passage.
“Cashless stores exclude the often vulnerable and un/under-banked by using a credit or debit card to screen potential customers that just want to buy a salad,” he tweeted.
Great to see the NYC Council requiring cash as a payment option. Cashless stores exclude the often vulnerable and un/under-banked by using a credit or debit card to screen potential customers that just want to buy a salad. https://t.co/gryYAQccqM
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) January 23, 2020