Lawmakers want to bar businesses from refusing cash payments, a measure which drew the opposition of several business advocacy groups.
Under Senate Bill 2785 businesses would be prohibited from refusing payments of cash in exchange for their product, with the exception of online retailers, airport vendors and parking decks.
The Senate Commerce Committee approved the measure in a 5-0 vote at their Monday meeting. Penalties would begin at $2,500 for a first offense and over multiple offenses could go as high as $20,000.
Many businesses have switched to accepting a combination of credit and debit cards, as well as smartphone app payments such as Venmo, Google Wallet or PayPal.
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-4th District, said at the June Assembly committee hearing that many customers that pay cash only are lower-income, or too young to get a credit card or bank account.
“Our position is free enterprise. Let the business owner decide the forms of payment,” said Mike Egenton, executive vice president of government relations at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. “I mean the world is changing.”
“You’ve got cryptocurrency, you’ve got PayPal, you’ve got apps on your phone, you’ve got people, businesses and establishments that are cash only, you’ve got establishments that are a mix of both,” Egenton added. “Ultimately I think that the business-owner knows what their customers’ needs are and what their wants are and can adapt to that.”
And Mike Wallace, vice president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said that many lower income residents would have access to pre-paid cards for consumers without the means for a bank account.
“It’s going to stifle innovation and it’s going to be a deterrent to do business in the state,” Wallace said of the bill.