Banning cashless stores is a solution in search of a problem. No major national retail chain has gone cashless, and most examples are small, independent retailers, mostly restaurants. The two most prominent names that have tried cashless—Sweetgreen and Amazon Go—relented amid complaints from customers. Some retailers actually prefer cash because of the tens of billions of dollars banks charge annually to process credit card transactions.
Nonetheless, the world is changing. Cash was used for 40 percent of payments in 2012, but that share dropped to 30 percent by 2017, according to the Federal Reserve. The use of plastic has soared, along with mobile payments.
For “digitally native” high schoolers, paying by phone—or maybe by fingerprint or facial recognition someday soon—is as natural as swiping cards for their parents or handing over cash for their grandparents. Young people under 25 already use debit cards for 35 percent of transactions, and college campuses are one place where going cashless has taken off, from dining halls that accept only a student ID to bookstores or campus shops that no longer take cash.