San Francisco's cashless ban now in effect; stores that don't comply could get slapped with fine

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San Francisco’s cashless ban is now in effect, which means all stores must accept cash – or get slapped with a fine.

Stores like Amazon Go were all about the cashless model – a quick high-tech way to do grocery shopping using your smart phone and no cashiers.

Store owners said using credit and debit cards only made for faster, more efficient service and and it provided a safer environment – some said having cash on hand could invite crime.

But in May – the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants to accept cash as a form of payment as well. 

One of the main reasons for passing this was because the board said low-income people might not have a credit card. 

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 17 percent of African American households and 15 percent of Latino households had no bank account.

Some people also prefer to use cash because they don't want to leave a digital trail of where they have been and what they have bought. And the supervisors said not accepting cash is discriminating against them. 

District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown pushed back, saying cashless is tantamount to hanging a "not welcome" sign for those without smart phones or credit cards. She was the author of the ordinance.  

Amazon Go started accepting cash months ago – other businesses have had to make similar adjustments. If they don’t, they could be fined starting at $100 for a first offense. 

In the South of Market neighborhood, the lines were as long as ever with the new cash way to pay. 

"I don't think a place being cashless has ever made my experience way better. So as a user of these stores, I wonder what the benefit was?" asked customer Joaquin Kunkel. 

“I know it’s like more overhead for businesses to accept both. And it’s slower. But whatever can increase inclusion for people who don’t have cards,” said Ericka, a customer eating outside Sweetgreen.

Philadelphia and New Jersey passed similar laws this year. Legislation requiring merchants to accept cash also has been introduced in New York City.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.