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A growing number of customer-facing businesses have opted to implement cashless policies, declining to accept cash for payment and limiting consumers’ options on how they can pay for goods and services. Proponents for cashless policies cite the efficiencies gained by removing cash from a business and concerns about theft as their primary reasons for supporting such policies. Opponents to the move toward cashless express concerns that the policy is discriminatory and has a disparate impact on lower-income consumers who do not have access to financial institutions. Policymakers at the local and state levels have responded by proposing and enacting legislation prohibiting discrimination against cash buyers.

This Note examines the controversy regarding cashless policies and the appropriate government response to this practice. This Note argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should classify poverty as a suspect class and apply strict scrutiny to any legislation that impacts a low-income person’s ability to participate in the marketplace freely. Additionally, this Note argues that Congress should enact federal legislation to prohibit businesses from implementing cashless policies because the policies discriminate against those who do not have access to financial services.