The Rising Debate Over the Cashless Trend

A growing number of Washington businesses, and other establishments across America, are refusing to accept cash in favor of card and mobile payments. While most consumers prefer the convenience of paying by card, is completely removing the option to pay using cash really a good business move?

Benefits of not accepting cash payments

Companies going cashless state that it makes good business sense, because cash has hidden costs. With cash, there are cash registers and cash-in-transit vehicles that are at risk of being robbed and the business losing their money–or even their personnel–to crime. Another security risk is the ease of embezzlement, as employees can pocket cash from the registers or shortchange customers, which is virtually impossible when accepting card payments.

Convenience is another benefit attributed to going cashless. Accepting cash means taking extra time to close out the register every day, taking time to count out change for customers, and other similar delays. An official from a high-profile U.S. business stated that going cashless helped process up to 15% more sales per hour.

Businesses are striving to move with the times, which some believe means making the shift to cashless. By offering attractive cashless payment options, such as online pre-ordering and in-store payments with a dedicated company app, businesses are catering towards a modern, tech-savvy audience that will hopefully lead the charge toward a digital future.

Issues involved in going cashless

Some business owners are concerned that refusing to accept cash may be seen as disrespectful to their customers. Refusing the ability to use cash as payment is exclusionary, particularly towards lower income and younger generation customers. As well as being exclusionary, there is the rising question of whether businesses should be permitted to refuse accepting legal tender. A group of lawmakers have recently introduced a bill that requires retailers to accept cash. This bill is one of several across the world where resistance against the cashless trend is growing. Similar legislation was unsuccessful after being introduced in Chicago last year, and while Massachusetts has an old 1978 pro-cash law, it is not enforced.

The cashless trend also has broader implications. On a global scale, credit card industries are promoting the trend, with some card brands offering incentives for rejecting cash payments and releasing reports to tout the benefits of a cashless society. By contrast, the ATM industry opposes the trend, and supported a pro-cash initiative launched last year by the so-called “International Currency Association,” a front group for industries that benefit from the use of cash, such as ATM operators and armored car services.


To accept cash or not to accept cash

There are certainly benefits to either side of the cashless debate.  In the end, the question is specific to each business that must make the decision for itself.  For example, a business that sells primarily to teenagers, immigrants, or other categories of individuals who are unlikely to have a bank account or credit card has no real choice other than to accept cash from some of its customers.  On the other hand, high-end stores, businesses that require deposits, and any company that conducts business primarily online or over the phone may benefit significantly from going cashless.

For more information about going cashless or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to

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