We have officially passed the 12 month mark from when the COVID-19 pandemic first swept the globe. It has also been a year since consumers started avoiding using cash for purchases out of fear of the virus. Afraid to contract the illness from handling currency, consumers began to quickly shift to using digital methods of payment. And concerns are still swirling.
A group of three financial associations have major fears of their own: the harmful economic and social effects of prohibiting cash payment for goods and services. This group recently sent a letter to members of Congress, governors, and state legislators across the country warning of these potential effects. It was signed by Secure Cash Transport Association, Independent Armored Car Operators Association and ATM Industry Association.
Ultimately, the intent of this letter is to ensure a war on cash does not break out. More and more merchants are adopting contactless payments. Some have even gone as far as moving away from cash acceptance altogether.
All of this is in response to consumers’ fears, preferences and increasing demands. In light of the year business owners have had, it’s definitely understandable why they feel the need to adopt new technologies to stay afloat and get back on track. However, it could very quickly lead to a whole new set of big problems.
“Although the pandemic is a crisis of major proportion, it is also an opportunity to denigrate the use of cash,” explains David Tente, ATMIA’s executive director for the USA, Canada and Americas.
“Initial claims of the danger of using cash were grossly exaggerated. Central banks and [the] World Health Organization even had to come out with clarifying statements about the use of cash. Consumers should be allowed to pay by whatever means they choose.”
States Fight Back Against Cashless Society
To ensure cash isn’t written off completely and consumers still have a choice, more and more states are beginning to adopt laws that prohibit retailers from refusing cash. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey have all adopted such laws. And cities like New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia have jumped on board as well.
These states and cities’ decisions are especially intended for the more financially vulnerable consumers. Any individual in need of goods and services should be able to easily use cash or any other legal tender to do so.
“The banning of cash impacts consumers underserved [from a financial services standpoint] that rely on cash for purchases, says J.R. Davis, president of Davis Bancorp. “Banning cash would be disrespectful to these consumers because a lot of scientific research has emerged since the pandemic hit that shows the virus is not transmitted by handling cash, but through the air.”
Blair Thomas has been a music producer, bouncer, screenwriter and for over a decade has been the Co-Founder of eMerchantBroker, the highest rated high risk merchant account processor in the country. He has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a hurricane, and lived on a gold mine in the Yukon. He currently calls Thailand his home with a lifetime collection of his favorite books.