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Bipartisan House Members Urge Biden To Preserve Cash Option for Consumers

In a letter written on February 2nd, 2021, multiple members of congress request the Biden Administration and economic team to protect consumers’ choice to pay for goods or services with cash at retail businesses.

.02 Cash Protection letter to Bid

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden:

We respectfully request that your economic team protect the right of consumers to pay for goods or services with cash at retail businesses.

Businesses nationwide have recently begun refusing to accept cash as a form of payment. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of Americans are either unbanked or under-banked, without access to digital payments, credit cards, or debit cards. Cashless policies disproportionately harm seniors, minorities, immigrants, low-income populations, and working-class communities. All consumers should have the freedom and choice to pay with cash at grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail businesses.

The bipartisan Payment Choice Act was introduced in the 116th Congress, which would guarantee all Americans the right to pay with cash at businesses. Over 50 Members across the ideological spectrum joined this bill, and the Senate companion enjoyed similar bipartisan support.

Over 20 cities and states nationwide, including Philadelphia, New York City, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and others have begun to enact legislation that guarantees the right to pay in cash. However, this patchwork approach is unfair to both businesses and consumers. Now is time for a single, nationwide standard that guarantees that currency can be used for all debts, public and private.

Considering the ongoing pandemic, it is important to note that cash does not present any increased risk of COVID-19 transmission compared to credit cards. According to a 2013 study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, microbiologists determined that American currency, a porous surface, had an extremely low rate of virus transfer efficiency: between 0.05 percent and 0.2 percent. Nonporous surfaces, such as hard plastic countertops and credit card readers, had a transmission efficiency rate of up to 79.5 percent. This has been borne out by empirical evidence as well. In Germany, cash payments account for 80 percent of all transactions and the mortality rate from COVID-19 is less than three percent.

For all consumers, the use of cashless payment methods presents a growing and evolving range of threats to privacy, and particularly to the confidentiality of consumers’ personal financial information, including details of their personal preferences and shopping habits. Not only does every non-cash purchase of goods or services generate a record of the time, date, location, amount, payment method, and subject of the consumer’s purchase, but trafficking in such data has become a rapidly growing industry. This leaves consumers vulnerable to intrusive and unwanted marketing efforts by merchants, financial institutions, card issuers, and others. The compilation, sale, and resale of such data also magnify the risk of inadvertent breaches of data security, and of theft, fraud, and other misuse of personal financial data that can result in a serious financial loss to consumers who are victimized.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to working with you and your administration to protect consumers’ choice to pay for goods or services with cash at retail businesses.


Donald M. Payne, Jr.

Member of Congress


Christopher H. Smith

Member of Congress


Ritchie Torres

Member of Congress


Barbara Lee

Member of Congress


André Carson

Member of Congress


Alcee L. Hastings

Member of Congress


Dwight Evans

Member of Congress


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