Cashless stores – the way of the future?

Jessica Satherley
Cashless stores – the way of the future?

Ben & Jerry’s have just opened a cashless ice cream store at Wellington Airport, while Auckland restaurant Ika Bowl became cashless in June. 

But REDnews wanted to know – can they do that? 

“Retailers are within their rights to set terms of trade up front, for example “no cash”, and customers can choose whether to shop there, as a form of contract under than condition,” a Reserve Bank spokesperson said. 

“However, if you have incurred a debt (and cash was not excluded up front in the contract, then cash must be accepted as legal tender for that debt.” 

So yes, they can do that, as long as they’re up-front about it 

Retail analyst Chris Wilkinson says that cashless stores are the way big cities are heading. 

“It definitely works well in metropolitan environments when you have technologically advanced audiences,” he said. 

“Or in areas where there can be contamination between touching food after handling cash. 

“We see more and more businesses looking towards card-only self-checkouts too, to increase productivity because of high staff costs.  

“We're seeing less and less people carrying cash.  The potential is that it could disenfranchise some consumers but that is such a small number it’s a risk worth taking for retailers,” he said.  

Managing Director of Ika Bowl, Ra Beazley, said they went cashless as they were only getting 10 – 15% of sales in cash. 

“We decided to go cashless because it’s easier with the speed of payments in store,” Beazley said.  

"People were a bit upset at first when they came in and only had cash, but they have adjusted to it and now they’re fine with it. We haven’t lost any business.  

“We never kept a lot of money on-site, but it was a good way to ensure no-one would break in, as well as preventing any internal theft.  We knew that customers would adapt. 

In the U.S. however, some states are cracking down on cashless stores. 

Philadelphia is the first state in America to ban cashless stores across their state. 

The law came into place on July 1st, and now retailers in Philadelphia who refuse cash could face a fine of up to $2,000 USD, Charged Retail reported. 

Other states looking at passing a similar bill include New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New Jersey. 

The debate is whether going cashless discriminates against low-income patrons. 

However, business owners have found going cashless can reduce theft, be more efficient and increase staff safety. 

In 2018 Kiwis made an average of 462 electronic payment transactions each, excluding online card transaction, according to Payments NZ

“Cheques made up only four of the 462 payments per person (down from five in 2017), while electronic credit and debit payment volumes grew faster (up 5.6%) than total card transaction volumes at point of sale (up 4.36%),” they said. 

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