New York City fights the cashless future
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
In yet another blow to the cashless revolution, New York City lawmakers passed legislation banning stores from going cash-free this past week.
What's happening: Several stores — including Amazon Go, Sweetgreen and Shake Shack — are leading an effort to do away with cash. But cities are fighting back, saying that stores that don't accept cash discriminate against millions of Americans, mostly the poor, elderly and immigrants, who don't use credit cards. New York follows Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Jersey and Massachusetts in banning cashless stores.
By the numbers: Around 30% of all U.S. business is still done in cash, not credit cards. And close to 14 million Americans are unbanked.
The big picture: As we've reported, there's a global race to speed up checkout, with companies betting that cash-free is the future of retail.
- China is in the lead. Over the last two years or so, Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com have wholly eliminated cash in hundreds of stores.
- American counterparts Amazon and Walmart are only starting to debut such technology in a few flagship locations, but they're running into cashless bans.
What to watch: Cashless stores, like Amazon Go, are adding cash as an option to comply with the bans in big cities. But paying with cash at these high-tech stores that are explicitly built to be cashless adds a lot of hiccups, as a Business Insider reporter discovered.
Go deeper: The West, dragged into the cashless society