Amazon Go Taking Cash

A customer carries his shopping bag as she walks out of a newly-opened Amazon Go store, Tuesday, May 7, 2019 in New York. The store will be the first Amazon Go store to accept cash. At its other shops, customers can only enter with an app that links to a credit card or an Amazon account.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco officials voted Tuesday to require brick-and-mortar retailers to take cash as payment, joining Philadelphia and New Jersey in banning a growing paperless practice that critics say discriminates against low-income people who may not have access to credit cards.

The vote by the Board of Supervisors was unanimous.

Supervisor Vallie Brown, who introduced the legislation, said it “will go far in ensuring all San Franciscans have equitable access to the city’s economy.”

Brown said she thought it unfair that someone couldn’t buy a sandwich just because they had cash. She said young people, victims of ID theft, immigrants and homeless people are among those who don’t have bank accounts or credit cards.

In many ways, the legislation was an easy call for San Francisco officials, who strive to make life more equitable in a city with an enormous wealth gap.

High-paid tech workers who flocked to San Francisco to work for Facebook, Google, Uber and Airbnb may like the ease of paying by credit card, debit card or smartphone.

But many low-income people, including more than 4,000 who sleep on San Francisco’s streets every night, likely don’t have money to sustain bank accounts.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 17 percent of African American households and 15 percent of Latino households had no bank account.

Some people also prefer to use cash because they don’t want to leave a digital trail of where they have been and what they have bought.

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