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In July 2022, Tennessee will add itself to the lengthening roster of cities and states requiring that businesses serving the public accept cash as a form of payment. Senate Bill 1858 is a consumer protection bill that adds an amendment to an existing Tennessee law which states that any business or person selling goods or services must accept cash as a form of payment. 

The amendment takes effect on July 1, 2022.

Riding the Wave

The Tennessee bill follows upon precedent set by several other states and municipalities that have required businesses to accept cash payments. Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island all have passed legislation favoring cash as a form of payment. Additionally, cities such as Washington D.C., Berkeley, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco require businesses to accept cash payments.

Protecting Cash

There is also bipartisan support for a nationwide push to require businesses to accept cash. The Payment Choice Act of 2021 (HR 4395) was introduced in the House by Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr (D-NJ), but has bipartisan support from 40 Democrat and Republican cosponsors.

The bill “requires retail businesses to accept cash as a form of payment for sales in amounts less than $2,000, and it prohibits them from charging cash-paying customers a higher price compared to customers not paying with cash. Such businesses are those engaged in the business of selling or offering goods or services at retail to the public that accept in-person payments at a physical location.”

The bill was announced in July 2021 and has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee for consideration.

In announcing the bill, Rep. Payne Jr. issued a press release stating that, “Rep. Payne, Jr. introduced the bill to protect American currency due to several issues concerning digital payments.  Currently, there are 55 million Americans who lack a bank account or credit card and need to use cash to pay for their necessities.  These Americans would be left out of the economy completely if cash is banned.  Privacy is another concern when customers use digital payments.  Data collection is a $200 billion industry and recent company data breaches in the U.S. and worldwide have revealed private information on millions of customers.  In addition, cash is the only way to pay for items during a natural disaster.  If a hurricane or other catastrophe were to knock out a power grid anywhere in the country, Americans would not be able to pay for critical, life-saving supplies to protect them and their families.”

With so many Americans lacking the financial resources to make digital payments, it is vital that states and the federal government take a stand to support cash payments in America.