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Amazon Expresses Concerns After Philadelphia City Council Passes Bill Outlawing Cashless Businesses

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia is one step closer to banning cash-free businesses. City council passed a bill Thursday that would outlaw stores that only take credit cards.

It's business like Bluestone Lane that don't accept cash. Some council members say it's discriminatory.

Meanwhile, Amazon is now voicing its concerns.

Cafe chains like Sweetgreen and Bluestone Lane could soon be required to accept cash under the bill, which passed in a 12 to 4 vote.

"It's really a fairness issue. It's equal access is what we're trying to get," councilman Bill Greenlee said.

Greenlee introduced the bill last fall. He says cashless businesses discriminate against poor customers and senior citizens who don't have access to or feel comfortable using credit cards or bank accounts.

"I'd rather be able to have the option of cash or credit card. That would be better for senior citizens," Easton resident Gloria Penn said.

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If signed by the mayor, the bill would outlaw cashless businesses in the city.

Violators could receive fines of up to $2,000.

"The government shouldn't be involved in telling business owners, specifically entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, how to operate their business." councilman-at-large Allan Domb said.

Domb, who is a business owner himself, voted against the bill, arguing that businesses have gone cashless to improve efficiency and to reduce the risk of robbery.

Since the vote, Philadelphia's Commerce Department confirmed to Eyewitness News that the e-commerce tech giant company Amazon reached out to express concerns about the possible ban.

Amazon is considering bringing an Amazon Go, a partially automated convenience store, to the city.

"They told me directly that if this bill was passed, Amazon Go, which would employ 100 new jobs in the city, a hundred new jobs in Philadelphia, it would not come to Philadelphia," Domb said.

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"If there's a way to fit in the Amazon model, fine," Greenlee said. "Not that I don't want business coming in, but I'm more concerned about the people who live here now and making sure they're treated fairly."

Eyewitness News reached out to Amazon, which declined to comment.

Mayor Jim Kenney has not said whether or not he will sign the bill.

If passed, the bill would take effect on July 1.

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