Cash is vital to a strong, thriving economy. Businesses who choose to decline cash as a form of payment for goods and services are excluding the nearly 7.1 million households in the U.S. that are unbanked, meaning they do not have access to a bank or credit union account.
This is especially problematic because the majority of unbanked households are made up of people of color. According to the 2019 FDIC Survey of Household Use of Banking and Financial Services, “13.8 percent of Black households were unbanked in 2019… Among Hispanic households, 12.2 percent were unbanked in 2019.” These numbers are substantial when compared to White households who only had a 2.5 percent unbanked rate.
Cash is Inclusive
A recent report by Square, a digital payment company, surveyed 1,000 business owners and 1,000 consumers and found that “73% of consumers and 68% of business owners say the U.S. will never become a completely cashless society.
Additionally, Square’s report finds that:
65% of consumers think that cashless businesses are less inclusive than businesses that accept cash; and
85% of consumers are likely to walk away from a business where they are unable to use their preferred method of payment.
Cash is Popular
While the number of digital and contactless payments has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, cash is still popular. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s 2021 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice found that “Cash use accounted for 19 percent of all payments” and that the “average value of cash held in consumers’ pocket, purse, or wallet increased to $74, up $20.”
For businesses seeking to be inclusive and welcoming, it will be imperative that they continue to offer cash as a payment option for their customers.