Cashless shops are unfair to homeless, poor New Yorkers, councilman says

New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres wants to ensure that the $1 bill he showed Fox 5 on Tuesday evening when gathered with the required denomination of its paper and metal relatives can purchase anyone holding them a salad at Tender Greens, a cone at Van Leeuwen, or a breakfast sandwich at Daily Provisions — none of which currently accept cash.

They and 13 other cashless restaurants in the city either failed to respond to Fox 5 or declined to give us an interview.

"This dollar bill has the full faith and credit of the United States," Torres said, holding the bill. "A cashless establishment sends a discriminatory message."

Whether intentional or inadvertent, Torres argued that businesses accepting only credit or debit disproportionately deny service to this city's most vulnerable people.

"What happens if you're homeless? What happens if you're undocumented?" Torres said. "What happens if you're too poor to have credit? What happens if you're underbanked?"

Tender Greens posted an explanation of its cashless policy on its website arguing before it switched to exclusively plastic only a single-digit percentage of its customers still paid in cash, cashless transactions sped up the purchasing experience for both customers and employees, and not needing armored trucks to ferry cash in and out reduced the company's carbon footprint.

"Well, I'm concerned that the use of a credit card-only policy could serve as a formula for filtering out quote-unquote undesirable customers."

And so Torres proposes a bill to mandate all New York City businesses accept cash, in addition to whatever other means of payment they wish to allow.

 "Under my legislation, no one is going to say no to George Washington," he said.