Detroit Today: Should Detroit require businesses to accept cash payments?

An ordinance passed by City Council this week will require businesses to accept cash payments, but business owners have concerns.

A hand pulls a $20 bill out of a wallet

This week, Detroit City Council passed a new law requiring retail and food service businesses to accept cash payments for goods and services. The new law, which approved by a unanimous 9-0 vote, will take effect in September.

The intent of banning the cashless model is to prevent discrimination against people who don’t use banks or who prefer not to use electronic payment methods. But while the new law has been celebrated by some, others groups, including businesses, have expressed concerns.

Listen: The arguments for and against banning cashless retail and food service business in the city.


Angela Whitfield-Calloway is a member of Detroit City Council representing District 2. She sponsored the new ordinance in City Council. Whitfield-Calloway says the ordinance is necessary to protect consumers choices both in how they bank and how they purchase items with legal tender.

“We dictate what businesses should do. If we allow them to do what makes us uncomfortable…we give up our power,” says Whitfield-Calloway.

Charity Dean is the President and CEO of the Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance. She says punishing the economic choices of business owners is the wrong way to support customers who use cash, particularly after businesses were encouraged to adopt cashless transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are people that are unbanked and there are people that lack digital access,” says Dean. “And guess what? As a result of this ordinance, they’re still unbanked and they still lack digital access.”

Danielle North is the owner of Kidz Kingdom, a childcare and party center in the city of Detroit. She says the measure will place undue burden on her small staff, due to safety concerns and administrative costs incurred by handling cash.

“We don’t accept cash, for safety purposes for our business,” says North. “And as a business owner, I don’t want to have to run back and forth to the bank with cash.”

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