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Some Businesses Going Cashless As Americans Carry Less Paper Money

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- How much cash is in your pocket?

If you're like most Americans, the answer is not much, and now you may not need it, thanks to a new check out system.

Because Americans are carrying a lot less cash than they used to, some stores are eliminating it entirely. At one local restaurant, cashless is catching on.

There's plenty of green at Sweetgreen, but none in the cash register. That's because customers can't pay with cash, they only accept app or credit.

"I think it's pretty great," one customer said.

"It seems like it's a pain in the rear," another said.

It's an experiment Sweetgreen calls the future of retail that they say speeds up service and creates a safer environment for employees.

And Sweetgreen is not alone.

In addition to a handful of restaurants in New York and San Francisco, most airlines stopped accepting cash for in-flight purchases years ago.

The country of Sweden is largely cashless.

Christina Tetrault, of Consumers Union, says going cashless can save businesses money.

"This is part of a larger trend," Tetrault said. "Cash is expensive, it's time consuming, and there's shrink -- that's the loss due to cash mishandling or theft."

Fewer people are carrying cash. According to BankRate, more than two-thirds of consumers carry $50 or less on a regular basis and 9 percent don't carry any cash at all.

"You see a drop in the use of cash, you see an increase in the use electronic payments," Tetrault said.

But she says there are some drawbacks to going cashless, like excluding the 24 million unbanked Americans.

"Effectively seven percent of the population is not welcome there," Tetrault said.

Those who pay with plastic, tend to spend 12 to 18 percent more, which may be costly for consumers but good for business.

"I got extra chicken and I didn't think twice about the cost of it, normally I would," one customer said.

Sweetgreen told CBS2 it's learning from the cashless experiment and evaluating feedback from consumers.

Cash only businesses are illegal in some states, like Massachusetts, because they say it discriminates against cash buyers.

Also, while cashless may pay off for business, servers tend to prefer cash tips.

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