PHILADELPHIA - The Law and Government Committee approved a bill by 4-1 after a hearing that would prohibit most city stores from going cashless. According to Philly.com, the bill would prohibit retail locations from refusing to accept cash or charging cash-paying customers a higher price and violators could be fined up to $2,000.
The bill will now proceed to the full Council for consideration this week.
Proponents of the bill say that cashless stores “effectively discriminate against poor consumers who do not have access to credit or bank accounts, especially in a city with one of the highest poverty levels in the country.” Since these stores rely on a bank account connection to make a purchase, they assume and disallow those without one to enter.
A report by the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation found that 6% of Philadelphia residents was unbanked in 2017 and 22% were considered “underbanked.”
“It’s about making sure that all of our citizens are included in our future,” said Kevin Thomas Jr. of Drexel University’s Center for Hunger Free Communities to Philly.com. “This bill stops discrimination and gives innovation and exclusion a chance to catch up.”
A similar bill is passing through the courts in New Jersey.