Meaning. Cramer and Menendez reintroduce bipartisan bill to preserve freedom of choice in payment for goods and services

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have reintroduced the Payment Choice Act to ensure customers have the freedom to choose how to pay for their goods and services. With the increased use of electronic and contactless payment methods and many businesses refusing cash, consumers without access to financial services face a disproportionate burden. The bipartisan legislation would prohibit retailers from refusing to accept cash as a form of payment and from charging a higher price for using cash than for other forms of payment.

“Banning cash payments discriminates against the millions of Americans who don’t have a bank account or who prefer cash. It also forces customers to exclusively use a less secure method of payment. Payment Choice Act protects people’s right to participate in the economy using their preferred method of payment.If businesses unilaterally stop accepting cash, why are we printing money?Is it really legal tender for all the debts as it says?” said Senator Cramer.

“While electronic payments are a convenient method for customers to pay for goods or services, completely denying cash as a form of payment deprives people, often in underserved populations, of equal access to participate in our economy, said Senator Menendez.“Our bipartisan, common-sense legislation would ensure that everyone who is legal tender in print and backed by the U.S. Treasury, and especially those who are unbanked or underbanked, can continue to participate fully in the economy.”

While the majority of American households have access to all certain financial services, 5.4% of US households are unbanked, which means they don’t have a checking or savings account. 16 percent of Americans are underbanked, which means they rely on a variety of financial services, such as money orders, to complete transactions. Unbanked and underbanked consumers are more likely to have lower incomes, less education, or be members of a racial or ethnic minority group.

Despite a decline in cash payments in recent years, they represent 19 percent of all payments in the US economy according to a recent study.

The Consumer Choice in Payment Coalition (CCPC), a broad group of consumer advocates, businesses and nonprofits, supports both bills.

“We believe it is essential to ensure that cash remains a universally available payment option for consumers across the country,” said Linda Sherry of the national advocacy group Consumer Action, a member of the Coalition.“Non-monetary transactions generate large amounts of data, recording the time, date, location, amount and purpose of each consumer’s purchase, which is available to marketers and digital advertisers who are committed to developing and improving increasingly sophisticated techniques for identifying and targeting potential customers.

“We greatly appreciate the work of Senators Menendez and Cramer to protect cash as a vital ongoing payment option for consumers, which will help us keep our economy strong,” said Bruce W. Renard, executive director of the National ATM Council and co-chair of the Coalition. “The enactment of the Choice of Payments Act will help maintain the strength and stability of the US dollar here at home, and preserve its status abroad as the world’s premier fiat currency. Maintaining universal acceptance of cash provides all Americans with an inexpensive, convenient, private, and reliable payment option that is of immense benefit to all of us, individually and collectively.

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