Philadelphia stores and restaurants can no longer require cashless payments starting July 1, thanks to new legislation that aims to ensure all citizens have equal access to the marketplace.

The city is the first in the nation to ban cashless businesses, though New York City and New Jersey are considering similar laws, according to the Philly Voice. The legislation, which Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law on Feb. 28, aims to protect low-income citizens who might not have access to a bank account.

The law also prevents businesses from demanding surcharges on customers who pay with cash. If business owners violate the rules, they face up to a $2,000 fine. 

"As business models evolve we must ensure that it's not discriminatory," Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Greenlee, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, tweeted on February 14 after the City Council passed the bill. "Nearly 10% of Philly residents do not have credit," he wrote.

The legislation has received a great deal of backlash, both from businesses who are impacted by the ban, and from those who say the law doesn't go far enough to protect residents living in poverty.

Those who say the law isn't strong enough point to the fact that it provides exemptions to parking lots and garages, memberships stores like Costco, rental companies and retailers that accept mobile payments, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Amazon has been the most vocal opponent of the bill, though these discussions have taken place behind closed doors. The company is allegedly lobbying city officials to provide the company an exemption.

According to the Inquirer, Amazon is concerned it won't be able to open Amazon Go stores in Philadelphia since customers pay for items through an online account after leaving the store. The company reportedly plans to open up to 3,000 of these stores throughout the U.S. over the next few years.

Coffee shop Bluestone Lane and popular salad chain Sweetgreen are among the stores currently operating in the city that will need to adjust their cashless policies if they want to continue doing business in Philadelphia.

 

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