San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has joined other state and local jurisdictions across the nation in passing an ordinance this month that will effectively preserve consumer choice to use cash for retail payments throughout the city.
The supervisors unanimously approved the law on May 7. The measure requires all San Francisco brick-and-mortar retailers to accept cash. San Francisco Mayor London Breed is expected to sign the measure into law soon. The law will take affect 90 days after the mayor’s signature.
As written, the law includes few exceptions. Internet businesses as well as temporary and non-stationary retailers, such as food trucks and pop-up stores, can still go cashless. Purchases for more than $5,000 can also require non-cash payments and retailers can refuse to accept bills above $20 in denomination.
The National ATM Council Inc. (NAC), an industry advocate for independent ATM owners and operators, supports the San Francisco cashless ban.
“It makes perfect sense that San Francisco has joined Philadelphia and the State of New Jersey in their recent passage of cashless bans,” said Bruce Renard, executive director of NAC. “The City by the Bay has always been forward thinking and diverse – and a community with a large heart. While the primary stated policy reason for the ban is not to shut out the city’s poorest residents from everyday transactions, there is no denying that true innovation arises from the freedom of choice in the marketplace that U.S. currency continues to embody.”
For the vast majority of everyday purchases, the freedom of choice to pay for goods and services with cash remains an option. Violations of the new law will be treated as misdemeanors, carrying monetary fines that increase with multiple incidents.
In addition to San Francisco’s ordinance, a number of other leading U.S. municipalities and states currently have similar initiatives under consideration.