Mar 2, 2019 - Technology

Amazon wins a cashless ban carveout

An Amazon Go store

Banned? Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

In an example of the power of Big Tech, as Philadelphia moved to ban cashless stores, Amazon lobbyists went to work and won a carveout that makes an exception for its Go stores — but still outlaws the competition.

  • The loophole permits stores based on membership, like Costco, to go ahead with cashless.
  • Amazon managed to slip in with Prime, which allowed it to take advantage of the membership loophole, Councilman Bill Greenlee's office confirmed to Axios.
  • Sweetgreen is still barred.

That it wriggled out of the law is emblematic of Amazon's outsized market power, says Stacy Mitchell, a critic of the company and a researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "Amazon can walk into virtually any city in this country and tell people what to do."

  • Amazon declined to comment.

New Jersey's law has loopholes, too. There, car rentals and parking booths are exempt.

What to watch: The current version of New York's bill to ban cashless does not have carve-outs, so it would impact Amazon Go.

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