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CEO DATELINE – ATM association endorses bans on ‘cashless’ retailing

Feb. 22, 2019
By Walt Williams

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An association representing ATM manufacturers is endorsing attempts by municipalities and states to ban retailers, restaurants and other businesses from refusing cash for purchases.

In a statement, the ATM Industry Association said it supports attempts in New York City, Washington, D.C,. and Philadelphia to prevent businesses from refusing cash from customers. At least two states are also considering enacting similar bans.

“The issue is far broader than the poor and unbanked segment of the economy pointed to by these legislative measures,” said David Tente, executive director of ATIMA’s U.S. operations. “Cashless retail severely limits consumer payment choice and eliminates the favored payment method for 26 percent of the population, according to Federal Reserve numbers. And industry data indicates that 45 percent of consumers prefer using cash for purchases in local retail establishments.”

Advocates for the bans say they are needed because cashless retailing discriminates against the poor. However, some companies are fighting back, with Amazon recently warning Philadelphia it would not open an Amazon Go store in the city if leaders there adopt a ban, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Amazon Go is a store where customers can walk in, grab what they need and then walk out without paying at a register, as technology in the store tracks their purchases and charges their accounts.

ATMIA said cash is often the only choice for people in times of crisis, and that automated payment systems are prone to glitches and mistakes.

“Why decrease freedom of choice for citizens in a free market democracy?" ATMIA CEO Mike Lee said.

At least one association representing retailers said fears of a cashless economy are overblown. A big factor why most retailers still accept cash is they have been in a two-decade battle with banks over the fees charged when customers use credit cards, J. Craig Shearman, vice president of government affairs public relations at the National Retail Federation, told the news site Mobile Payments Today.

“There’s really not a need for legislation, because of the fact that cashless is so much the exception to the rule,” he said.