One of the key components of Amazon’s new line of convenience stores is already getting axed.
Amazon Go, the store chain that prides itself on a no-cash, no-cashier shopping experience will start allowing customers to pay in cash, CNBC reported. The company’s senior VP of physical stores Steve Kessel told employees Amazon would start accepting alternative payment methods in a meeting last month, according to a recording obtained by CNBC.
That will reportedly include cash and possibly SNAP benefits, which Amazon has accepted on its website since 2017. There is no timeframe on when this new policy will go into place.
The news comes hot on the heels of the city of Philadelphia and the state of New Jersey both banning cash-less stores in March. While there are plenty of people in the United States who would be fine with never using cash again, the reality of the situation is that it isn’t always the easiest option for some.
An FDIC survey in 2017 estimated that 25.2 percent of American households are either unbanked (meaning they have no bank account at all) or underbanked (meaning they have bank accounts, but rely heavily on other sources of money). Only 6.5 percent of those households had no accounts at all, but that still accounts for more than eight million people.
Black and Hispanic households, in particular, were more likely to be totally unbanked according to the FDIC’s findings. As such, the argument has been made that cash-less stores disproportionately exclude marginalized communities. It could also be a problem for people in abusive relationships with shared bank accounts.
There are 10 Amazon Go stores in the U.S., all in major cities like Seattle and San Francisco, with plans to open more in the coming years. There are no cashiers at all, meaning customers take what they want from shelves and pay using the Amazon mobile app. There are, however, human employees who could theoretically help make sure cash transactions go smoothly once they are implemented.
Of course, maybe just having cashiers would make it as easy as possible.