Santana safeguards poor consumers, tells retailers: Accept cash

LANSING — In response to the growing trend of retailers only accepting debit cards, credit cards or digital wallets as forms of payment, Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) has introduced legislation that would require Michigan businesses to also accept cash from customers if they are buying goods or services at physical locations. 

Senate Bill 310 amends the Michigan Consumer Protection Act of 1976 to ensure that residents without access to a bank account or credit card services can still make purchases at brick-and-mortar retail stores.

“Just because someone may be poor and doesn’t have a piece of plastic in their wallet or an app on their phone, doesn’t mean they can’t pay,” Sen. Santana said. “Technology can be a wonderful thing, but we need to ensure that every Michigan resident is able to purchase goods and services without discrimination, even if they don’t have a bank account or a credit card. No one should have their purchasing power restricted simply because they don’t have these particular payment options.” 

It’s estimated that 6.5% of households, or approximately 21 million people, are not members of a bank or credit union, according to a 2017 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation report. For minorities, that figure is even higher, with nearly 17% of black households and 14% Hispanic households affected by the credit gap or digital divide. 

Similar legislation to require retailers to accept cash has already been passed or introduced in New Jersey, Washington D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, and California. Massachusetts has banned cashless merchants since 1978.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

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