National ATM Council Hails SF Law Requiring Retailers To Accept Cash

Posted On: 5/24/2019

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SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has joined other state and local jurisdictions around the country in passing an ordinance designed to preserve the consumer’s choice of cash for retail payments throughout the city. Reporting on the measure, the National ATM Council explained that the new law, which received the unanimous approval of the Board, requires all SF brick-and-mortar retailers to accept cash. The Mayor is expected to sign the measure into law.

The law includes a few exceptions. Internet businesses as well as temporary and non-stationary retailers, such as food trucks and pop-up stores, can continue to require cashless payment. The new law does not cover purchases of $5,000 and above, for which cashless payment may be required. And retailers can decline to accept banknotes with denominations larger than $20.

However, the Council observed, the vast majority of everyday purchases by San Francisco’s citizens and visitors will retain the option of cash payment. Violations of the new law are treated as misdemeanors, carrying monetary fines that increase with multiple incidents.

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 the National ATM Council. “The City by the Bay has always been forward-thinking and diverse -- and a community with a large heart.” Renard noted that, while the primary stated policy reason for the ban is to avoid the exclusion of poorer residents from making everyday transactions, the more far-reaching benefit is preservation of “the freedom of choice in the marketplace that U.S. currency continues to embody.”

A number of other major U.S. municipalities and states currently are considering similar measures to protect consumers’ freedom. The Council continues to track such initiatives, and to lobby on the industry's behalf, across the U.S. jurisdictions now weighing laws on this important subject.

Contact Bruce Renard at (904) 683-6533 or bruce@natmc.org.