New Jersey Mandates Cash Acceptance at Retail

Stores and restaurants in the state cannot go cashless.

March 20, 2019

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey restaurants and stores must accept cash under a new law that forbids retailers from requiring card payments only, reports. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law this week, making the Garden State the second (behind Massachusetts) to mandate acceptance of cash at retail establishments. The law took immediate effect.

“Many people don’t have access to consumer credit, and any effort by retail establishments to ban the use of cash is discriminatory toward those people,” said state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, who sponsored the proposal.

The prohibition only applies to in-person transactions, allowing merchants to accept electronic payments for online, mail or phone orders. A 2017 FDIC survey revealed that 6.5% of U.S. households had no access to a banking account, with black (16.9%) and Latino (14%) households registering higher percentages.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association expressed concern about the law. “Today’s signing removes a business owners’ right to freely determine how they would like to receive payment for their products and services. The preference for retailers to run a cashless business is often based on efficiencies and, in some cases, as a safety measure,” said Michael Wallace, the association’s vice president of government affairs.
The ATM Industry Association has supported proposed bans on cashless retail businesses in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. For several years, NACS has reported on the introduction and growth of cashless stores, including operations in China, the U.K. and the U.S. Amazon unveiled its first cashless store near its Seattle headquarters in 2016 and has since announced it will open an additional 3,000 similar outlets by 2021.