TAMPA, Fla. – Customers who frequent the Blind Tiger in Tampa often pay for their cup of coffee with a credit or debit card – accounting for 85% of the business’s transactions.
“It is just the added convenience to offer somebody who wants to pay with credit card,” said Blind Tiger owner Roberto Torres.
But, the Blind Tiger’s owner still wants to be able to accept cash, especially because travelers often use it. It’s also fee-free for the business.
Most stores pay credit card companies around three percent of each transaction.
“I definitely think people should have a choice,” said one Blind Tiger customer. “Especially with business owners being hit so hard.”
A bill in Tallahasseee would require that choice by law, banning most businesses from going cashless. More and more businesses, like sports arenas and pop-up shops, have found cash-free to be easiest for customers.
But, the concern is that allowing too many businesses to go cashless would shut people out of the economy – the working class and the elderly – from being able to buy what they want.
“I think it speaks to how technology is moving really fast and government can play a role in either enhancing that technology or potentially slowing it down,” said State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando).
Eskamani is sensitive to those who wouldn’t have easy ways to pay at cashless businesses, but she also said cash simply might not work for some businesses, like food trucks.
“I do think we should embrace the free market, embrace innovation,” said Eskamani. “Government really should not get in a way of evolving technologies.”
Eskamani said ATM companies have been lobbying for the bill. But the National Federal of Independent Businesses, a lobbying group on the other side, said business shouldn’t be pushed towards cash if they don’t want to be.
“We’re not in the business of turning away customers,” said Florida chapter leader Bill Herrle. “So if a business owner ascertains that, you know, cash best facilitates commerce at their business, they’re going to do that.”
Under the bill, only retail businesses like parking lots could go card only, where safety is a major concern.