Measure to ban cashless stores advances in New Jersey

Some lawmakers in New Jersey want to ban stores that refuse to accept cash.

A measure that would require all brick-and-mortar retailers to accept cash was unanimously approved by the N.J. Senate Commerce Committee and will now go before the full state Senate. The bill, which was overwhelming approved by the state Assembly in June, excludes retailers inside airports from the cash requirement, and also excludes sales made online and by telephone or mail. New York City and Philadelphia are also reportedly considering banning cashless stores.

Under the N.J. bill, businesses would receive a $2,500 fine for a first offense, and $5,000 for a second. Subsequent violations would fall under the consumer fraud act, which can carry penalties of up to $20,000.

Critics of stores that don’t accept cash say such businesses effectively discriminate against poor customers who might have credit cards or even bank accounts and older consumers who are wary about using credit cards or mobile commerce.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Amazon and some other major retailers have raised concerns about the legislation. Amazon operates a cashless Amazon Books store at Garden State Plaza mall, in Paramus, N.J.

Only one state — Massachusetts— has a law banning cashless stores.