When US lawmakers understand the dark side of cashless economy

Lawmakers in New York City and New Jersey are working to pass bills that would require retailers to accept cash, alleging that the growing cashless trend discriminates against low-income customers.

Low-income, minority and less-educated households are more likely to have no bank accounts or rely on financial products that come from outside the banking system. People who defend cashless commerce cite greater convenience for customers and lower risks for businesses.

Although mobile payments and digital banking products are on the rise, many Americans still do not use a credit or debit card. Roughly 7 percent of U.S. households, or 8.4 million, are unbanked, meaning that no one in the household possesses a checking or savings account, according to a 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Another 19 percent are underbanked, indicating that they have a bank account but still rely on financial products such as payday loans.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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