Against a background of a giant digital shift that is taking place in every part of our lives, the future of cash appears more fragile than ever. Yet the need for it for those who do not have another payment option remains and will likely continue to remain for the foreseeable future. While some governments, including Canada, Sweden and the UK, made a commitment to maintain cash for as long as people use it, a concerted effort by consumers and business is needed to ensure that cash continues to be accepted.
The newly formed coalition brings together a number of organisations and businesses committed to preserving the freedom to pay with cash throughout the United States, including consumer advocacy groups such as the Consumer Federation of America and Consumer Action; manufacturers of cash-handling and processing hardware such as Hyosung USA, Genmega, Triton Systems, and Diebold Nixdorf; and national trade associations including The National ATM Council (NAC), the National Armored Car Association (NACA), the Independent Armored Car Operators Association (IACOA), the Secure Cash & Transport Association (SCTA), The Amusement & Music Operators Association (AMOA), and Financial Service Centers of America (FISCA).
‘We believe it is critical to ensure cash remains a universally available payment option for consumers throughout the nation,’ said Linda Sherry, of the Consumer Action national advocacy group. According to Consumer Action, as well as the Consumer Federation of America and other noted payment-choice advocates, cashless enterprises lock out many millions of unbanked and underbanked Americans, while eroding the fundamental consumer freedom to rely upon cash for payment anywhere in the US.
The new coalition highlights the critical importance of cash payments, particularly during times of natural disasters and other emergencies, when electronic payments are frequently inoperable. A recent statement issued by the CCPC in relation to cash safety during COVID-19 pandemic points to information available in current scientific literature showing cash is as safe to use as other available payment methods, such as plastic cards or mobile phones, provided standard public health recommendations about washing hands and not touching one’s face are followed.
One of the CCPC’s top priorities is supporting the passage of the Payment Choice Act of 2019 (HR 2650). This important bipartisan bill, introduced in Congress last year, has 38 co-sponsors, both Republicans and Democrats, and is poised to move forward through the legislative process once things return to the new normal on Capitol Hill. Upon enactment, the law would maintain nationwide acceptance of cash payments for consumer purchases of goods and services at brick-and-mortar retail outlets.
Protecting the cash payment option for Americans is already high on many cities, and states’ agenda. Within the past two years, the state of New Jersey, and major cities including New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco have all enacted laws requiring retail providers of goods and services to maintain a cash payment option for consumers.