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USA: San Francisco board oks ban on cashless retail

Fuente: Retail Customer Experience

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is banning cashless brick-and-mortar retail stores and restaurants.

The move is part of a growing political backlash to the increasing trend of self-checkout stores led by Amazon Go.

The bill, sponsored by Supervisor Vallie Brown, levies escalating fines, starting at between $50 and $100 for the first offense, against retailers and restaurants that fail to allow customers to pay with cash. The vote is the latest in a growing number of cities and states moving to ban the practice, following similar bans by New Jersey and Philadelphia.

«For Supervisor Brown it’s imperative that all San Franciscans have access to the goods and services that are available to some San Franciscans,» Derek Remski, legislative aide to Brown, said in a telephone interview with Mobile Payments Today.

The legislation exempts certain businesses from the cashless ban, including food trucks and pop-up stores.

Remski said cashless stores do harm to vulnerable populations, including the elderly, communities of color and young people who are often unbanked and don’t have access to credit. He said the policies harken back to an earlier era in this country when certain populations were locked out of public accommodations.

He noted companies like Amazon and Sweetgreen acknowledge Brown’s effort as noble because they realized the cashless policy could reduce access to necessary services.

«The future may be cashless, but in the meantime we can’t have businesses that have a ‘no cash allowed’ sign,» he said.

San Francisco has seen a significant number of cashless businesses in recent years, in part due to the city’s proximity to major Silicon Valley companies.

The autonomous checkout movement has been largely symbolized in recent years by Amazon Go, the cashierless convenience store from e-commerce retailer Amazon. Amazon operates three Amazon Go stores in San Francisco among a dozen stores nationwide, including four in Chicago, four in Seattle, and a newly opened New York location at Brookfield Place mall in Manhattan.

The New York store opened last week as the only cash-accepting Amazon Go location to date. Instead of checking in via a mobile app before shopping, cash-paying customers are «swiped» into the store by the employee, who also takes cash payments at a counter.

The stores use 21st century technology, including computer vision, artificial intelligence and a mobile app, to let customers just take sandwiches, drinks and other quick items off store shelves and walk out through a turnstile-like exit where prices are automatically scanned and the payment card linked to the customer’s mobile account charged out without the need for a cashier. The stores do have customer service employees to help shoppers navigate the location,

Another autonomous checkout store in San Francisco, operated by Standard Cognition, also provides a fast cashierless experience for shoppers, however the company had already built into its model the ability to accept cash payment from customers.

Standard Cognition, which sells autonomous checkout technology to other retailers, told Mobile Payments Today recently that retailers had sought to use autonomous checkout, but did not want to eliminate cash altogether.

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