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What are the impacts of going 'cash-free' in King County?

caption: Seattle now has the highest minimum wage of any major city in the United States
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Seattle now has the highest minimum wage of any major city in the United States

Do you remember the last time you paid for something in cold, hard cash?

For many of us, using a credit or debit card has become a normal part of life. Using an app like Apple Pay or Google Pay on your phone to swipe 'n' go has become more common as well.

Pew Research surveyed U.S. adults last year and found more than four in 10 said none of their purchases in a typical week are made using cash.

The pandemic has reportedly accelerated the move to a cashless economy.

Some businesses say they prefer credit card transactions because of the speed and efficiency they bring.

Others in the Seattle area have moved to a no-cash policy because of safety concerns.

Kevin Park owns the restaurant Just Burgers on University Avenue. He says the restaurant went cashless in May of 2020 after a series of burglaries.

Park said that they only kept around $100 in the register, but if someone broke in, “the cost of repairing is in the thousands."

So, for Just Burgers, it didn't make sense to keep cash in the store at all.

But some municipalities have begun to push back on businesses that abandon cash transactions, citing equity concerns.

Last week, King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles proposed an ordinance for unincorporated parts of the county that would require businesses to accept paper currency. She wants King County to join cities like Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco in banning cashless retail.

Kohl-Welles said she's trying to "make sure that those individuals who do not have access to, or desire to use credit cards, debit cards, swiping their smartphones, who maybe they don't have them, are able to access needed food, consumer items and services."

Soundside talked with Kohl-Welles about the different aspects of her ordinance. You can listen to the entire conversation through the audio above.

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