How COVID-19 is accelerating the shift to a cashless society

Tom Ivory, the founder of the Baker Street Bread Co. in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill section, fought a valiant effort for years to rein in bank fees by imposing a minimum credit card purchase of $10. But more customers wanted to go cashless, and Ivory eventually relented and accepted plastic for any transaction, no matter how small.

About 78% of the purchases at the cafe and store are now paid through credit cards or other electronic transfer — up from 10% just five years ago.

“You have to keep up with technology,” Ivory said. “To operate as just a cash business today is a suicide mission. You’re just not going to succeed.”

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the trend toward a cashless economy, financial experts say, buoyed by the growth of e-commerce and the fear of handling paper money contaminated with COVID-19. During the lockdown, when Baker Street’s retail business was limited to takeout and was conducted only by phone or online, nearly every transaction was cashless.


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