by Layla Cypher
As the Detroit City Council discusses banning cashless businesses in the city, the idea of paying only with a credit card or debit card could spread to surrounding areas and potentially impact students at Rochester University.
Why it matters
If a regional area adopts going cashless, stores, restaurants and other businesses would no longer accept cash as a form of payment. This change would directly impact lower-income families. A report by Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan found about one-fourth of people living in Detroit did not have a checking or savings account as of 2019, which means they rely on cash to buy goods and services.
Some parts of Detroit have already gone cashless, including Little Caesars Arena and Plum Market in the Ally Detroit Center. This trend could spread throughout the metro area, impacting college students who could have a harder time paying for goods and services if they have not yet set up a bank account or if they rely on cash from their jobs in the service industry.
Jennifer Pagac, manager of the Campus Store, said she has not heard of any plans to consider the idea at Rochester University, and an RU student said she is grateful for that.
“It would be extremely inconvenient for me if our school no longer accepted cash at Kibo or the Atrium Cafe," said Gabbi Dicosmo, a sophomore sports management major. "Where I work, I mainly receive cash as payment, so this would mean I would have to make more frequent trips to the bank instead of just being able to pay for the things I get on campus with the money I already have on me.”
How it all began
When the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, businesses began reopening, and in an effort to provide faster and safer service for customers, they went cashless for less contact between customers and employees and to offer a faster transaction process.
The other side
Going cashless might not be a big problem for people who only carry cash because they might be able to transfer cash to a VISA gift card for no extra charge, which is the system currently being used at Little Caesars Arena.
Other large cities in America have gone through the debate of going cashless or not. Cities that have banned the cashless system include New York City, Massachusetts and San Francisco. Seattle, like Detroit, has not come to a conclusion on the debate yet.