Cashless businesses learn cash is king

Most Irving businesses are not planning to go cashless anytime soon.

Over the past few years, there has been a growing push for businesses to move towards eliminating cash transactions and accepting only credit or debit cards for purchases. Earlier this year, Visa declared a “war on cash” with its Cashless Challenge. The credit card company will offer 50 small businesses in the U.S. up to $10,000 each that commit to going cashless.

Jack Forestell, head of Visa’s global merchant solutions, said in a statement the challenge is a way to educate businesses on the benefits of a cash-free business.

“At Visa, we believe you can be everywhere you want to be, and it should be easy to pay and be paid in more ways than ever – whether it’s a phone, card, wearable or other device,” Forestell said. “With 70 percent of the world, or more than 5 billion people, connected via mobile device by 2020, we have an incredible opportunity to educate merchants and consumers alike on the effectiveness of going cashless.”

Supporters of cashless businesses will often cite that going cashless will result in much faster, easier and safer transactions. According to an infograph Visa released, transactions made with credit or debit take only one to two seconds to go through, compared to six or seven seconds for cash payments. Visa also claims cashless payments prevent the risk of cash being stolen or lost, and result in a much more seamless, convenient experience for the consumer.

Others, however, are not convinced. Irving City Councilman John Danish objected to the idea of a cashless business, primarily because he believes they discriminate against people of a lower socio-economic standing.

“Very often, a person who may be homeless may not have a mailing address to open up a charge card,” Danish said. “Therefore, even though McDonalds has that great dollar menu, they can’t even come in and take advantage of it if McDonalds were to say, ‘We only take credit card transactions.’ Of course, they may prefer to not have a customer who is homeless, so it may very well be a way for businesses to discriminate against the kind of customers they don’t want to service.”

Danish was not surprised credit card companies were pushing for cashless businesses, and many people do not realize how harmful relying solely on credit can be.

“The credit card can be a very dangerous pit for young people,” Danish said. “When they first graduate from high school, they are inundated with credit cards that say, ‘Sign up and we’ll let you have the American dream on credit,’ even before they have a good job. The reality is that credit cards have, in many ways, been legalized to have extraneous interest rates. By the time you look at what you pay, plus the interest, late fees and penalties, which we used to condemn the mafia for doing, our state and federal legislators have legalized.”

Wayne Chang, the general manager of East Buffet, an Asian buffet in Irving, would not consider making his business cashless, as a good portion of his sales still come from customers who pay with cash.

“In our case, customers paying cash make up at least 25 percent [of our total sales],” Chang said. “It’s not like in other areas where it’s only 10 percent, or maybe 5 percent. It depends on the individual company, and there’s different situations. If they want to [go cashless], it’s their choice. But to me, it’s not a good thing.”

Unforeseen issues like system malfunctions or problems with the card itself mean that sometimes, people have no choice but to pay with cash.

“I carry cash and credit card, just in case,” Chang said. “Sometimes, the credit card will not function right, or sometimes [the business’] Internet will be down. Or sometimes the credit card may not have enough money, all kinds of electronic things can happen. We need to also carry cash as a safe bet.”

In Dallas, there have been a few businesses that have tried going cashless, but the results have not been promising. In the 1980s, Lone Star National Bank made headlines by attempting to be the first cashless bank in the nation. That bank no longer exists in Dallas, and the remaining branches accept both cash and credit. Mini Café in Dallas, a cashless coffee shop, opened in 2014 and has since closed down. The former owners could not be reached for comment.

Winners of the Cashless Challenge will be announced at the end of October.

About the Author

Ariel Graham
Ariel Graham is a freelance reporter and blogger. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media & Communication in December of 2011. Prior to moving to Dallas, she worked for AM 790 KFYO in Lubbock, Texas, as a commercial voiceover actress, board operator, and producer for “Lubbock’s First News” & “The Chad Hasty Show.” She also wrote a weekly technology blog “The Geek Girl Report,” as well as various news stories and podcasts for the station. She is currently working on her new blog “Super Geek Girl Report,” and in her free time, she enjoys drawing, video editing, and playing video games.