Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Some businesses want to make you pay with a credit card or your phone by not accepting cash. N.J. could soon ban that

By Brent Johnson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Experts say it's becoming more common for businesses to accept only credit cards and
electronic payments and banning cash. (file)

No card, no phone, no problem.

A group of state lawmakers want to make New Jersey only the second U.S. state — and the first in 40 years — to ban businesses from refusing to accept cash from customers and requiring them to pay electronically.

The bill — which a state Senate committee will consider Monday — comes at a time when cities like New York and Philadelphia are weighing similar measures.

Experts say cashless businesses are becoming more common — especially in cities — thanks to a proliferation of credit and debit cards, self-serve kiosks, and mobile devices like Apple Pay that make it easier for customers to simply swipe and go.

But experts and lawmakers also warn that can disenfranchise people who don’t have the means to set up a bank account or can’t afford to be burdened by credit card debt.

“When you start going cashless, you marginalize people who are older, poorer, younger, who haven’t established credit — or people who don’t want to use credit to buy a pack of gum. Which would be me," said state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, one of the bill’s main sponsors.

“For people that want to (use credit), that’s fine,” Moriarty added. “But stores should still accept legal tender, which is the U.S. dollar.”

Bill Maurer, a professor at the University of California-Irvine who directs the school’s Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, said many businesses go cashless for “speed and convenience." That especially includes quick-service restaurants that are “trying to move people through quickly,” Maurer said.

It can also help prevent against robbery. Plus, Maurer said, electronic payments allow businesses to “capture data'” from customers to use for marketing and offers.

“In going cashless, you are kind of self-selecting a clientele that’s gonna be a little more higher end, spend some more money," Maurer said.

Thus, he said, these businesses are willing to overlook the added cost of devices and fees for card payments.

But Maurer said about 25 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t have access to credit cards or similar technology.

“Cash is a profoundly democratic form of payment,” Maurer said. “You just need to have it.”

For the full story, please visit: https://www.nj.com/politics/2018/12/some-businesses-want-to-make-you-pay-with-a-credit-card-or-your-phone-by-not-accepting-cash-nj-could-soon-ban-that.html