ATMIA (the ATM Industry Association) today confirmed its support for new efforts to ban cashless retail businesses in New York City, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, PA. At least two states are also said to be considering similar proposals. The motivation for all such efforts has focused on the potential disenfranchisement of poor and unbanked consumers.

“The issue is far broader than the poor and unbanked segment of the economy pointed to by these legislative measures,” says David Tente, executive director of ATMIA USA. “Cashless retail severely limits consumer payment choice and eliminates the favored payment method for 26% of the population, according to Federal Reserve numbers. And industry data indicates that 45% of consumers prefer using cash for purchases in local retail establishments.”

Even those with a vested interest in a cashless environment should take a moment to consider factors outside of payment choice. In times of crisis – regardless of the cause – cash is often the only option.

News articles will abound about the increased demand for cash and the rush to bring in mobile ATMs.

Daily life, too, has its wrinkles – payment networks crash and power systems fail. The only viable back-up system in all such circumstances is cash.

Every U.S. banknote clearly states that “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private”. Except in extreme circumstances, refusing a cash payment should not be permitted.

“Why decrease freedom of choice for citizens in a free market democracy?” added Mike Lee, ATMIA CEO.

In further support of current and future legislative efforts, ATMIA plans to issue a Position Paper on the subject of “Cash is Legal Tender” in the weeks ahead. Advocacy plans for 2019 include significant and continued attention to the ongoing importance of cash and its part in promoting financial inclusion.