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Congressional Representative Addresses Starbucks Plan to Eliminate Cash Payment

In a letter written on May 20, 2020, Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) expressed his dissatisfaction with the coffee chain's decision to begin eliminating cash payments at some of their stores. Rep. Payne's letter follows:

Mr. Kevin Johnson

President and Chief Operating Officer


2401 Utah Avenue South

Seattle, WA 98134

Dear Mr. Johnson:

I am disappointed to hear Starbucks stores plan to eliminate cash as a form of payment for your company's products. I understand the need to keep customers safe from infection during this coronavirus global pandemic and that your website stated that the "handling of cash creates consumer concerns about the spread of viruses." But there is no connection between coronavirus transmission and American currency. Such an action creates customer fears and does not alleviate them. In addition, it threatens to send a message that certain customers are not welcome in your stores.

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According to the Federal Reserve, there are an estimated 55 million unbanked or underbanked adult Americans. This is a staggering number of Americans who your employees would disenfranchise every day simply for trying to buy a cup of coffee. Those numbers are only going to increase. More than 35 million Americans have lost their jobs and face a future rife with economic uncertainty. Many of these consumers could lose their credit cards and be forced to use cash for everyday expenses. They would be customers your stores would reject based on their choice of payment.

I do not believe Starbucks wants to tell a customer base of potentially 80 million Americans that they are unwanted in your establishments. Such a policy is an affront to every hardworking American who simply wishes to buy a cup of coffee with the only means they have available to them.

Therefore, I respectfully ask that you continue your current policy and allow all customers the freedom to choose a payment option that works for them, whether they choose cash, a credit or debit card, or digital payments. I will continue to push my legislation, the Payment Choice Act (H.R. 2650) to provide that freedom of choice in how they wish to pay for goods or services to all Americans.

I thank you for your consideration of my request. I look forward to working with you to find an equitable solution so that all customers, and potential customers, have freedom in payment choice.


Donald M. Payne, Jr.

Member of Congress

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