Are Cashless Establishments The New Racists?

During a recent visit to a popular Houston restaurant, I was greeted with a sign that read “This is a cashless restaurant.” As a person who prefers to utilize the most egalitarian system of payment in the U.S. I was a bit taken aback by this little stupid ass sign! Luckily for me, I often carry around one lonely debit card in my phone case. But what if I’d left it at home that day? Would I have been unable to enjoy a meal? Or worse, what if I didn’t have a card at all?

During tonight’s radio show we will be chatting with EaDeaux’s Cajun Concina owners Jason and Starr Harry regarding the pros and cons of cashless restaurants. In the interim, let me unpack some of my thoughts.

The following statistics from Total System Services (TSYS) leads us to believe that the masses are already paying with credit/debit over cash.

  • 40 % of Americans like to pay with credit
  • 35% percent with debit
  • 11% percent with cash — (millennials 5%)
  • 99% percent of consumers with a household income over $100,000 use credit or debit for purchases

Additionally when speaking with restaurant owners the three key elements of time, safety and theft play a huge role in the transition as well. Possibly topping the list is the fact that consumers spend more money when using credit.

So what makes this rise of cashless restaurants so harmful?

Eater author Melissa McCart would argue that cashless restaurants are more than just an inconvenience: It’s classist and discriminatory! A host of factors like these three below, cause this trend to leave a bad taste in my mouth:

  • lack of a permanent address
  • banks’ minimum balance requirements
  • lack of identification

Prevent a sizable swath of the population from being able to obtain a credit or debit card. Going cashless, then, boxes people out and reinforces the stratification of society, between the young and old, rich and poor, and the legal and undocumented customers in all the diverse corners of the United States.

What are your thoughts on this cashless restaurant infrastructure?

Share your thoughts and comments below and tune in to my Instagram Live tonight to catch the show! Should you miss the show at 8 pm you can always catch it here:

Thanks for being loyal subscribers!
– G&G


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