Cash or credit? For many New Yorkers, including those without access to a bank account, cash is the only option. While a new law will soon require local businesses to accept cold hard cash, advocates are calling on federal lawmakers to put their money where their mouth is, too.
Erica Ford, CEO of Life Camp Inc., is calling on the city’s congressional delegation to push through a law requiring that cashless businesses accept paper money. “There’s a lot of people who are going to get left out of the conversation,” she told the Daily News. “I see a barrier that has to be addressed.” Ford, who’s known for her efforts to prevent gang violence, said the issues raised by cashless businesses became especially clear after the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For people with no bank accounts or direct deposit, receiving payment for their work became even more of a logistical hurdle with check-cashing places closed.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said he began to see the issue as important when Amazon started opening brick and mortar stores that didn’t accept cash more than a year ago. “Low-wage workers and people who are not working often are un-banked,” he said, using a term for people without bank accounts. “If there is not an option of paying in cash, they are excluded from commerce." The economic fallout caused by the pandemic makes this even more true now, he said. “More and more people either are not working or have low incomes,” he said. “This makes the situation for low-wage and no-wage workers even worse.”