San Francisco

San Francisco Votes To Outlaw Cashless Businesses

The city's Board of Supervisors said that no-cash policies discriminate against the poor.

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Cash is king in San Francisco.

The city's Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to outlaw cashless businesses on Wednesday, citing the effect that such establishments have on the unbanked population.

"The future may be cashless," Supervisor Vallie Brown, who introduced the legislation, tells the San Francisco Examiner. But until we get there, the current landscape is "excluding too many people" with a select group of retailers that forego cash transactions.

"This legislation will go far in ensuring all San Franciscans have equitable access to the city's economy," she said—an ode to those without bank accounts, many of whom are impoverished. The bill applies to brick-and-mortar spots, and thus excludes ride-hailing services, pop up shops, and food trucks. Repeat violators would be subject to a $1,000 fine.

But cashless businesses—most notably Amazon Go—say that a no-cash policy helps trim operating costs, like the armored vehicles required to transfer cash to the bank, as well as closing hours spent counting greenbacks. Sweetgreen, the popular salad chain, saw a plunge in burglaries after they ditched cash. (They recently scrapped their cashless policy after an unrelenting public outcry, and Amazon Go said it will pilot a cash model for the first time at its New York City store.)

Yet lawmakers argue that the benefits to businesses are outweighed by the message sent to the poor, namely that those customers are not welcome. Philadelphia and New Jersey have also outlawed cashless businesses in recent months, and New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago are considering similar pieces of legislation.

San Francisco is perhaps most known for its massive wealth gap: Rent prices there have the unenviable distinction of being the highest in the world. But while the cashless ban attempts to make living conditions more palatable for the less fortunate, it will have no such effect. Only a small cohort of businesses shun cash, the majority of which are in the city's upscale Financial District and South of Market neighborhoods.

In that vein, San Francisco's legislation is a solution in search of a problem. There will always be businesses that benefit from cash transactions—particularly as more expensive fast-casual restaurants opt for plastic only.

Approximately 6.5 percent of households are unbanked, according to a 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is far from ideal. City officials could do more good by helping these people prepare for a future which even Vallie Brown concedes is coming.

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55 responses to “San Francisco Votes To Outlaw Cashless Businesses

  1. The city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously voted

    Gets tiring when you live in a city that votes this way every time.

    1. If you’re tired of it, just vote. Voting is the way to solve problems with society. Democracy is our sacred right and obligation. All hail democracy.

      1. Voting doesn’t do much when you’re permanently outnumbered by morons.

  2. fast-casual restaurants opt for plastic only.

    It’s San Francisco, they’re banning plastic.

    1. Ha! I see what you did there…

  3. I, for one, welcome a cashless society because it allows Our Dear Leaders to examine all my transactions, so they can see that I am the very model of a modern subject/citizen and never make questionable or suspicious purchases.

    1. As soon as San Francisco realizes cash might be used for untrackable problematic transactions, they’ll ban it so fast it’ll make your eyes water.

      1. Not to mention, sooner or later someone will tell that people with cash like to protect themselves with guns – – – –
        Unless they go all New Zealand and outlaw private armed guards.

    2. The alternative to use cash, allowing law enforcement to seize it by simply asserting you have too much of it, and thus must be a drug dealer

  4. Cashless businesses also discriminate against people who value their privacy.

    1. Indeed. Perhaps I don’t want the government or my bank to know everything I do.

      Why Reason has no respect for the concept of digital privacy is lost on me.

      1. Reason has no respect for digital privacy when a corporation is violating it because muh free marketz and muh private property.

        1. Seems to be that way.

          You cannot trust ANYBODY with this info. Not the government and sure as shit not businesses.

          “Well, the market will deal with them.”
          “Sure, AFTER the info is already out there. Good luck fixing that issue.”

    2. You really think a cashless economy wouldn’t run through alternative credit networks and exchange currencies like crypto? Just like the SF market would respond to demands from the poor for cash based business, financial markets would respond to market demands for privacy in transacting.

      1. Financial markets still have to deal with things like FACTA, which prohibit privacy.

      2. and what could be more private than a crypto transaction with a permanent record?

    3. Cashless businesses also discriminate against employees, and some “customers”, who like to help themselves to the contents of the cash register.

  5. Only a small cohort of businesses shun cash, the majority of which are in the city’s upscale Financial District and South of Market neighborhoods.

    One might suggest it’s not so much the no-cash policies that keep the poor people out as much as it is the $15 salads.

    1. And worth commenting that “upscale South of Market” 20 years ago was “crack-infested gangland South of Market.”

      Gentrification, baby!

  6. I kind of wonder though – does San Francisco pay all of it’s welfare in cash?

    1. Exly was strategically placed in international waters just 12 nautical miles out from the official jurisdiction of Phuket, Thailand.

      Moved off shore from Fuck It, Thailand. Sorry their joint is in trouble. Not sure I would feel comfortable there – all those SE Asian nations have fucked up ideas about how far out their jurisdiction goes. There are slices of ocean there simultaneously claimed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and God knows who else.

      1. Been following them.

        Lot of fishy things all along.

        Chad and summer girl are in some sort of hiding now. She is Thai and does not look like she has any way to get a US passport. He talked often about hosting rich investors.

        He is American citizen.

        I doubt the Thai government could not find them. Perhaps they can find a way to leave. The thing they put up in the ocean has been towed to shore. The company they were involved with has some interesting investments.

        It is a fascinating story.

        He posted here. Many of the statements in the press are contradictory.

        Answer
        C) not enough information

        I think there is much more to this story.

    2. they made certain that the structure was in international waters and, thus, beyond Thailand’s jurisdiction,
      Perhaps they should have checked with the UN for territorial claims. Thailand claims a 24 mile contiguous zone.

  7. “no-cash policies discriminate against the poor”

    And?

  8. Approximately 6.5 percent of households are unbanked, according to a 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is far from ideal.

    What is the ideal amount? 0%? Why does everyone need a bank account? Fuck the banks.

    I just looked at a $5 bill: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” Does that not mean anything anymore?

    BTW author – I like your family’s casino in DT Las Vegas.

    1. What does it mean?

      Because those words are so reassuring. Faith is what it is which has little to do with government. Sea shells, gold bars, bitcoin, Disney shares, all are just ways of exchanging your goods and services for mine.

      Government produces nothing.

    2. “I just looked at a $5 bill: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” Does that not mean anything anymore?”

      It doesn’t mean businesses are required to accept it. From the U.S. Treasury website…

      I thought that United States currency was legal tender for all debts. Some businesses or governmental agencies say that they will only accept checks, money orders or credit cards as payment, and others will only accept currency notes in denominations of $20 or smaller. Isn’t this illegal?

      The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled “Legal tender,” which states: “United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.”

      This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.

      https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/currency/pages/legal-tender.aspx

      1. Makes sense – thanks. I still stand by what I said – fuck the banks. I pay cash for my ammo.

        1. I like apocalypse media.

          Ammo is a medium of exchange when paper money is worthless.

          1. I was at a grocery store when the credit card and ATM systems were down. All the customers were waving their plastic cards at the staff demanding they accept them as payment. Of course, they couldn’t, but they were more than happy to take my cash.

            I was wonder if these cashless stores would change their policies when they couldn’t accept electronic payments? But their upscale customers probably don’t carry cash anyways. Regardless, I keep plenty of cash on hand for emergencies.

            At the beginning of “The End” by G. Michael Hopf, the US is hit by an EMP and all electronics go down. But out hero, Gordon Van Zandt, convinces the manager of a grocery store to sell him canned foods for cash, at inflated prices. Greed for the win. So, Gordon exchanges his now worthless paper for vital supplies.

            Money will continue to have value, at least until people realize what’s happening, if SHTF.

      2. If the prices keep going up, movie theaters are going to want to be able to collect bills larger than 20s. Bring back the 1,000.

  9. What about the Tenderloin? Will strippers start carrying around card-swipe thingies? Imagine getting whacked in the face by one of those while enjoying a nice lap dance.

    1. “Will strippers start carrying those card swipe thingies?”

      Yup. The sex business has always been on top of the tech game.

      1. “Swipe here, Baby.”

        1. No regurts.

    2. Ha!
      Went to strip club in NOLA few weeks ago.
      One of my friends definitely venmoed a stripper…

  10. Meh. Call us back when SFC outlaws money, as in from now on people do not have to pay for any available in a “store”.

  11. Every poor person in the hood has a smart phone. How do they not have a bank account?

    1. Most likely criminal activity that would get flagged by bankers.

  12. “This legislation will go far in ensuring all San Franciscans have equitable access to the city’s economy,” she said—an ode to those without bank accounts, many of whom are impoverished.”

    She’s full of shit. The poor don’t have access to Gary Danko’s, regardless of whether they take cash or not.
    I use cash for those transactions I’d rather not be tracked, but screw her and her ordinance; if the market wants retailers who take cash, it’ll keep them.

  13. And sadly, San Francisco now proves that a stopped clock is only right twice a day.

  14. “no-cash policies discriminate against the poor” who have no cash anyway.

    1. Too true; government benefits are paid by card – – – –

  15. And the government also says you CANNOT use cash if it amounts to depositing or withdrawing over a set amount. Or a lesser amount often enough that some whacko cop and judge can call it structuring, and then take it all as forfeiture.
    So you HAVE to take cash, but you can NOT move cash through banks, and you can NOT have a gun to protect all the cash you have to accept, but cannot bank.
    Got it.
    (full disclosure; I left CA in the eighties)

  16. I was a little surprised to see this article on Reason. Yes, it’s a regulation and we hate regulations. But this line is BS:
    “There will always be businesses that benefit from cash transactions”
    I live in Europe, and more and more businesses are going cashless for the reasons you state above. In Sweden, they’re discussing outlawing cash – only 1% of transactions are currently cash. So this is a real thing, and it will come to America.

    While cashless is clearly better for most businesses, there’s not much beyond the convenience factor for consumers. Privacy is obviously out the door, bank fees for the electronic transaction are passed on to consumers, and ultimately governments can much more easily confiscate funds in a bank account than in a wallet. My grandparents were alive during the Depression, and they know to always have some cash on hand.

    Not black or white, but it seems like this legislation helps a lot more “normal folks” than just poor people.

  17. What’s wrong with the people of Frisco that they can’t figure out how to get a debit card?

    1. I find it interesting that that is their excuse since almost all government payouots are either direct deposit or a card (like the LoneStar card in Texas) and most employers of low paying jobs use cards or direct deposit for pay because it’s cheaper for them and more convenient for the employee and they get their money sooner.

  18. Approximately 6.5 percent of households are unbanked, according to a 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is far from ideal.

    I agree, the FDIC is far from ideal.

  19. Don’t worry, AOC will save us all. Her newest plan is to cap credit card interest rates at 15 percent, and force the post office to offer banking services to the unbanked. Imagine the lines when that passes.

  20. Step 1: Take your cash to a 7-11
    Step 2: Purchase a pre-paid Visa card
    Step 3: Enjoy all the privacy of cash with the convenience of cashless, even if you’re poor

  21. There are no “unbanked” except by choice. Government payouts are either direct deposit or a card like the LoneStar card. Employers use paycards for low paid employees where the employee opens an account through the pay check company. Even people who use check cashing places often use a card provided by the check casher much like the pay check card account. It’s almost like if you’re poor, you’re forced to get an account.

  22. San Francisco Votes To Outlaw Cashless Businesses

    Let San Francisco become a shining beacon on the hill, showing the world what progressivism can do for society!

  23. […] “This legislation will go far in ensuring all San Franciscans have equitable access to the city’s economy,” she said—an ode to those without bank accounts, many of whom are impoverished. The bill applies to brick-and-mortar spots, and thus excludes ride-hailing services, pop up shops, and food trucks. Repeat violators would be subject to a $1,000 fine. Read More > at Reason […]

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