Philadelphia City Council now has a law that bans cashless businesses, making it the first big city in the country to pass such legislation.
The law, which will take effect on July 1, was introduced by a veteran lawmaker, City Councilman Bill Greenlee, who thought it was discriminatory for businesses to turn away low-income residents who don’t have bank accounts.
About 13% of the city population — close to 200,000 people — do not have bank accounts, federal banking data, and therefore don’t have credit or debit cards to make cashless payments.
For many poor, their inability to keep any money in the accounts is the main reason for this. Because of this, they have often turned away from such shops, when they want to buy basic household items such as food and toiletry.
The new law covers both existing and new businesses.
“If there comes a time in a few years where everybody has the same ability to use some kind of credit, debit, plastic in some way, then fine, maybe this law wouldn’t be necessary anymore. But that’s not the case now,” Greenlee told NPR.
Currently, New York and San Francisco are also considering a similar law. Massachusetts is the only state in the US to ban the cashless business.