Sorry Amazon: Philadelphia bans cashless stores

Daniel Fowler
March 11, 2019

A spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney, who signed the bill into law last week, noted to the Wall Street Journal that 26 percent of city residents are below the poverty line. On the 15 of February 2019, the city council of Philadelphia passed a bill in favor of banning stores that refuse to take payments in cash. As of July, most businesses will be required by law to accept cash (exceptions will be made for parking garages, wholesale clubs like Costco that sell through a membership model, and hotels and rental-car companies where customers have to put down a credit card deposit). MA has long had a prohibition on its books against establishments refusing to accept cash. Philadelphia Councilman Bill Greenlee, who introduced the bill, said in a Tweet that almost 10% of Philly residents lack access to any credit.

'I can go into a coffee shop across from City Hall that's cashless and get my coffee and muffin, but the person behind me that has United States currency can't get the same cup of coffee. Amazon warned Philadelphia officials behind closed doors that a ban on cashless stores would force it to reconsider its potential plans for Amazon Go stores in Philadelphia. Lawmakers in New York City and New Jersey are considering similar measures. The company reportedly plans to open up to 3,000 of these stores throughout the USA over the next few years.

According to the Inquirer, Amazon is concerned it won't be able to open Amazon Go stores in Philadelphia since customers pay for items through an online account after leaving the store.

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In fact, the whole point of Amazon Go, the chain's tech-powered cashierless convenience store, is that there's no need to pay a cashier.

Jeff Bezos' Amazon issued Philadelphia a warning for if the bill passed. It's worth highlighting that although cash and coins are legal tender in the US, per the Federal Reserve's website, no law mandates business to accept them.

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