Federal legislation introduced to ban cashless stores

The movement to require stores and restaurants to accept cash is gaining steam.

Months after the city of Philadelphia and the state of New Jersey passed laws requiring retailers to take cash, two lawmakers in Congress have introduced bills that would put a ban on cashless stores nationwide. U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D, Rhode Island) and U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D, New Jersey) introduced separate bills that would force brick-and-mortar retail stores, including restaurants, to accept cash.

Cicilline’s bill, called the Cash Should Always Be Honored Act, would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the prohibition on cashless stores, letting the agency fashion the regulations to implement the ban. Violators would be subject to unspecified penalties.

Payne’s bill, the Payment Choice Act, is more similar to bans passed by Philadelphia and New Jersey in that it allows consumers to sue stores that do not accept cash, and sets fines of $2,500 for a first offense and $5,000 for subsequent violations. The legislation would allow attorneys general to intervene in civil cases brought against companies.

On May 14, San Francisco officials voted to require brick-and-mortar retailers to take cash for goods and some services. Temporary pop-up stores and online-only businesses are exempt, as are food trucks. Legislation requiring merchants to accept cash also has been introduced in New York City.