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NYC Council Passes Law Requiring Businesses To Accept Cash

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Cash is a universal currency and now New York City businesses will have to accept it.

On Thursday, the city council passed a bill requiring food and retail establishments to accept paper money and coins from customers. Those that don't could face a hefty fine, CBS2's Dick Brennan reported.

"Cashless transactions can be beneficial for businesses," Councilman Rafael Espinal said. "However, there are also unintended negative consequences that flow on from a policy that relies exclusively on cashless payments."

For example, not everyone has access to a credit card. Councilman Ritchie Torres, who sponsored the bill, said during the council meeting vulnerable communities are being discriminated against as a result.

"New Yorkers who have no documentation, no permanent address, who are living in poverty, who have no brick-and-mortar banking services in their area, these New Yorkers face deeply entrenched barriers," Torres said.

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Rebecca Tison opened Upper West Side bakery Barachou five months ago as a cashless establishment right off the bat. She said transactions move quickly and more efficiently without any cash and it deters break-ins.

"Whenever someone wants to pay in cash and I explain the situation they are really understanding," Tison said. "Also, with my employees it's super to train them and safest for me at the end of the day."

And though Mike McPartland, manager of the Coffee Pot in Hell's Kitchen, said the majority of his transactions are done with cards over cash, money is money in any form.

"As long as you have money you should be able to spend it," McPartland said.

Under the bill, businesses that refuse cash will be fined up to $1,000 for a first violation and $1,500 for subsequent offenses. There are some exceptions. Shops do not have to accept bills greater than $20.

The bill would not take affect until nine months after the mayor signs it into law.

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