A growing number of restaurants and cafes no longer accept cash settlements.
This raises questions, especially with regard to the poorest clients, often black or Hispanic, who do not have a card or bank account.
In Gotan, there is liquid, but only in cups of coffee and glasses of water. In this mini-chain of New York coffee shops, cash transactions are banned. Only payment by credit card is allowed. "Since we set up this system five months ago, we had some unhappy customers because they did not have a card on them. We invited them, simply. It's not our goal to make anyone angry Explains Arnon Magal, the nice co-founder of the place.
The trend is not fading
Gotan, which has three cafés in New York, is part of a long list of cashless businesses. Their exact number is not known, but the trend is not going away. Several fast-food chains, such as the Sweetgreen Salad Specialist, and many restaurants have already taken the plunge and require their customers to pay for their purchases by card or via a mobile payment app.
According to the financial information website Bloomberg, the giant Amazon plans to open 3,000 stores without liquid Go Stores by 2021 across the United States. In these state-of-the-art grocery stores, which already exist in Chicago, Washington, San Francisco and Seattle, customers are automatically charged at their exit by means of cameras and sensors. They no longer need to go through a cash register.
Money: must we finish with the species?
Only 41% of adults have "regular" fluid on them
The abandonment of coins and notes reflects a change in behavior on the part of Americans, especially among the youngest. A Capital One study in March 2018 found that only 41% of adults had regularly " of liquid on them and that 34% of 18-35 year olds (the generation of millennials) had "Rarely" or " never " of cash on them.
A quarter of the over 55s were in this case. This corresponds, for the bank, to a desire among young consumers to use more means of payment. " practice " and "Non-frictional".
"More transparent and easy for accounting"
For traders who have chosen this path, it is also more practical. "A very small part of our turnover came from cash in recent years. With our growth, we ended up with a half-salary dedicated to cash management, namely counting, registering and depositing it at the bank. ", explains Arnon Magal.
"It has become an expensive and impractical process. And when it runs out of liquid, it's often a human error, not a theft, but it still generates unnecessary tension. " He added. The system used by the restaurateur also allows the customer to leave the tip, which is then paid by a payroll service: "It's more transparent and easy for accounting".
Some do not see this march towards "zero cash" a good eye. Critics argue that this trend is bolstering the banks and large financial companies that earn a commission on each transaction.
Moreover, they did not hesitate to accompany the movement. In 2017, Visa offered to give a reward of 500,000 dollars (440,000 €) to 50 companies who decided to give up cash.
A discriminatory practice
Another concern is that the practice would be discriminatory against the poorest clients, often black or Hispanic, who do not have a card or bank account. More than 7% of the US population is not a bank customer. Ritchie Torres, a Democratic city councilor in the Bronx, an underprivileged district of New York, proposed at the end of November a law sanctioning businesses that refuse cash. " A policy that looks neutral in theory can lead to exclusion in practice "justifies the elected, who is African-American himself.
"Cash is something deeply democratic, abounds Bill Maurer, author of a book on means of payment. It can be given by anyone, it is accepted by everyone, collected and validated instantly. "
In France, a report advocates "gradually moving towards a society without cash"
The French use cash to pay small expenses. They represent 55% of the number of transactions in France, against 75% in Germany, but only 5% of the value of the exchanges.
Drawing on the example of Sweden, where payments by species increased from 40% to 15% between 2010 and 2016, the report of the Public Action Committee (PAC) 2022, published in June 2018, recommends " to gradually move towards a society without cash ". In particular, we find the dematerialization of payments to administrations by 2020 And the suppression of the species, beginning with the pieces of one and two centimes. Several European countries (Finland, Ireland, Belgium) have already abandoned these coins.
Alexis Buisson (from our correspondent in Washington)