Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Amy Sepinwall


Prior to 2019 in the United States, zero cities and only one state—Massachusetts—banned businesses from refusing cash payments. However, beginning in January 2019, countless cities and states began proposing or instituting bans on cashless businesses including New Jersey and Rhode Island, as well as Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New York City. Many lawmakers have joined this wave of bans under the perception that businesses refusing cash payments exclude and, by extension, discriminate against certain groups, including low-income or undocumented individuals. This paper examines the different rationale that can be applied to cashless business bans. Specifically, this research provides a legal overview to public accommodations and the standard for upholding a ban intended to prevent discrimination. The paper then goes on to apply an “Undue Burden Test” to cashless payment policies to identify whether accepting cash poses an undue burden to businesses. Utilizing existing scholarly research, news articles, and reports, this paper draws conclusions on the viability of cashless business bans and introduces potential responses to the burden accepting cash payments might cause.


ban, cashless business, cashless payment, discrimination, economic inclusion, financial inclusion, public accommodations, disparate impact, disparate treatment, retail, restaurant, undue burden



Date Posted: 09 November 2021


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