Assemblyman Moriarty’s Bill To Eliminate Discrimination Against Cash Paying Consumers Is Now Law
Throughout the country, a growing number of credit card companies and retail businesses have led a charge to go cashless, a move that many say discriminates against the unbanked and those who prefer the privacy of cash. On March 18th, New Jersey Lawmakers stood up for consumers to ban cashless retail. Governor Murphy signed Assemblyman Moriarty’s bill into law to make NJ the second state to ban the practice.
While the majority of retailers still accept cash payments, various companies have pushed the industry toward card only transactions. Visa offered small businesses $10,000 payments to go cashless, and large companies, such as Amazon and Starbucks, have implemented cashless locations in the past.
According to a 2018 FDIC report, about 6.5 percent of US households were unbanked, meaning no one in the household had a bank account. Additionally, another 18.7 percent of households were underbanked, meaning they may have had a bank account, but they still relied on services such as check cashers.
If retail businesses continue toward card-only transactions, they could exclude over 60 million adults across the US without access to credit. Then, the unbanked and underbanked will only have access to the goods and services available at stores that accept cash.
To prevent this, bill A-591 requires that all retail businesses must accept cash as payment for goods and services. Any person in violation of this law will be subject to a civil penalty up to $2,500 for a first offense, $5,000 for a second offense, and a third or subsequent offense would be an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act.
Assemblyman Moriarty believes that this law will protect low-income and young people who may be unable to get credit cards or bank accounts. Additionally, this law will protect consumers’ privacy by allowing them to buy items without being tracked for every single purchase right down a pack of gum.
The bill allows for certain cashless businesses including parking garages that only accept mobile payments, rental car companies that take cashier’s checks and certain airport vendors.
As a consumer advocate, Assemblyman Moriarty has advocated for privacy and stood up against discrimination throughout his time as a legislator. This law joins the Assemblyman’s past efforts to help consumers such as raising the minimum wage and preventing phone companies from selling users’ location data. Assemblyman Moriarty is confident that this bill will protect the unbanked from discrimination while maintaining a consumer’s right to privacy.