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This spring top executives from four leading financial services organizations sent a letter to Congress warning of the dire consequences of businesses prohibiting the acceptance of cash payments for goods and services.

The letter, written by executives from the ATM Industry Association, the Cash Transportation Association, Davis Bancorp, and the Independent Armored Car Operators Association, highlighted that banning cash can have devastating consequences for vulnerable populations.

In the letter the authors wrote, “Although 25% of Americans rely on cash to complete daily transactions and over 50 million Americans have little to no access to formal banking channels, efforts to ban and discourage cash are mounting…Considering the challenging economic environment, issuance of EIP payments, and tightening access to credit for many, banning cash constitutes disenfranchisement based on payment choice and direct discrimination against millions of citizens.”

COVID-19 Cash Use Unease is Unfounded

Authors of the letters also went on to debunk the mistaken theory that the COVID-19 virus poses a threat to the safety of cash. “The virus spreads primarily from person to person and cash poses the same or less risk than plastic/card payments. There is no scientific basis for new concern about the safety of cash,” they wrote.

The recent letter follows up on a letter sent to Congress in March by J.R. Davis, President of Davis Bancorp. In his March letter Davis wrote, “While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, it is no secret that it has been particularly devastating for those who have the lease. You may not be aware that throughout Chicago and around the country some well-meaning companies and businesses have banned the use of cash and moved to a cashless system for all of their business transactions… Although this decision may seem reasonable at first glance, it is not safer and is indeed harmful while disproportionately impacting the working poor and people of color.”

Davis went on to write, “The real danger of this policy is for those already disproportionately suffering from the virus and that an inability to pay with cash means a reliance on costly third-party digital networks and sacrifice of consumer privacy. Most importantly, it means limited access to basic goods and services needed to survive.”