One future trend is the push for a cashless society and there are some interesting developments. Cities and states are banning cashless stores, while restaurants and retailers like Amazon, Starbucks, Sam’s Club, and Tender Greens are busy eliminating cash. Some say that banning cash is good business because it reduces overhead and theft. Others say it discriminates against the poor and elderly who may not have credit cards or even bank accounts. Privacy-conscious consumers don’t want all their activities tracked by the credit card companies. Those companies want to eliminate cash because it’s good for their business.
Interesting times, indeed.
How can it be legal to refuse cash? It’s “legal tender for all debts, public and private”, it’s printed right on the bill. However, technically, until you’ve made a deal, or signed a contract, you don’t have any debt.
Courts have sided again and again with merchants who refuse coins or currency “on a reasonable basis,” a Treasury spokesperson explained, “such as when doing so increases efficiency, prevents incompatibility problems with the equipment employed to accept or count the money, or improves security.” That’s why an ice-cream shop can refuse to take $100 bills or why a transit agency can direct bus drivers only to accept coins for fares.https://slate.com/business/2018/07/cashless-stores-and-restaurants-are-on-the-rise-to-the-delight-of-credit-card-companies.html
Amazon still wants your cash, they just prefer not to handle it directly. Amazon Cash offers a way to load cash onto an Amazon card at Western Union and other retailers. Once loaded, you can use the Amazon Cash card as a payment method at checkout. On the other hand, Amazon PayCode allows you to check out at Amazon without paying first. You are given a QR Code to print or save on your phone. Take the QR Code to Western Union, pay with cash, and your purchases are released for shipment. Of course, these methods require extra steps and presume you have a smartphone or a way to print a barcode. Still, it could be possible to complete an Amazon purchase with help from the public library.
Taking a longer view, I see another issue. The rise of automation will eliminate many jobs. One proposed solution is some method of Universal Basic Income. As a practical matter, how do we make such a scheme universal if 10 million US households don’t have checking accounts?
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Image Credits: Pixabay