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Going cashless is the safest solution

Currency is a cornerstone of how our post-agrarian lifestyle works. We have gone from commodity objects, such as gold, to fiat currency, like cash, to live our lives and make purchases. The homogeneity of our transactions began to change in the ’80s and ’90s as debit cards gained popularity.

With the rise of mobile payments and peer-to-peer transferring services like Venmo, cashless transactions are not only preferred, but they are faster. The places that we frequent reflect this shift in our preferences. 

However, the most effective benefit of increasing the use of cashless transactions is the corresponding increase in physical safety for employees and patrons. The likelihood of a robbery happening decreases when the majority of cash is not physically in the store.

After employees were held up at a gunpoint, the restaurant Sweetgreen decided to go completely cashless. This reason was coupled with increased speed and better hygiene when going cashless, and they no longer deal with stickups.

A consumer payment study done by TSYS (a credit card servicing company) discovered the most preferred method of payment in the United States was the credit card at 40 percent, debit card at 35 percent and cash at a measly 11 percent. However, for people aged 18-24, 47 percent preferred to use debit for their transactions.

A restaurateur in Oakland reported a transaction speed increase by seven seconds after switching to mainly cashless transactions. The co-CEO for Dos Toros tacos stated that his employees save about two hours a day with the elimination of tasks like counting and depositing cash.

Sometimes, the violence can spread to the visiting patrons. In June 2016, armed robbers held up guests in a Café Express in the River Oaks area. The thieves not only demanded money from the cashier but took valuables from patrons as well.

Safety issues, like the one described above, are what led Thomas Nguyen, co-founder of Peli Peli, to make the two locations completely cashless. Another establishment that went cashless to protect themselves from crime is the restaurant and bar Boheme in Montrose.

Although this movement has been very prevalent in Houston, it will rise in popularity when the benefits become more obvious.

Going cashless is proven to reduce crime as evidenced by a study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research that looked at the implementation of the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) in the 1990s as opposed to paper checks for welfare. The study showed that the EBT program coincided with a decrease in the overall crime rate, specifically burglary, assault and larceny.

If we can go cashless for welfare, then it should not be hard for us to do something similar for restaurants.

There are many who don’t agree with the rise of cashless establishments, denoting the practice as consumer-hostile and discriminatory to the un-banked, who tend to be younger, those with a lower socioeconomic status and minorities.

Credit and debit cards revolutionized the world of payment. Bank systems are incessantly evolving, and PayPal, Venmo and other payment apps are entering the market at increasing speeds. Not only do we have a chance to significantly reduce unnecessary violence, but we also have a chance to make transactions safer and more convenient.

Even though cashless data has been and can be compromised, the physical safety and security advantages are too high to ignore.

Senior staff writer Perren Wright is a computer science junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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