New Jersey bans most cashless stores, restaurants

The move to cashless stores and restaurants in New Jersey has hit a dead end.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law requiring most stores and restaurants in the state to accept cash at their physical locations — effective immediately. The only other state in the U.S. to ban cashless stores is Massachusetts, which passed a similar law in 1978. But the backlash against cashless stores is growing. Earlier this month, the city of Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to require businesses to accept the legal tender. The cities of New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington are considering similar bills.

Businesses that violate the N.J. law face up to a $2,500 fine for a first offense and $5,000 for a second. Subsequent violations would fall under the consumer fraud act, which can carry penalties of up to $20,000.

The new statute applies to in-person sales only. Additionally, car rental companies, parking garages and some airport retail shops are excluded.

Consumer advocates say cashless businesses effectively discriminate against poor customers who don’t have access to credit or bank accounts.

“Many people don’t have access to consumer credit and any effort by retail establishments to ban the use of cash is discriminatory towards those people,” Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, a main sponsor of the measure, said in a statement.