Amazon Go stores, which are well-known for its cashless transactions, are about to add cash back into the mix.
When first announced, Amazon's futuristic stores were supposed to herald a new era of shopping, one without checkout lines, cashiers, and paper money. That dream is quickly unraveling now, as Amazon told its employees that Amazon Go stores will begin accepting cash, in an effort to address “discrimination and elitism” at the shops, according to CNBC.
This represents a walk-back for Amazon, but it was hardly unforeseeable. The company has been adding payment methods to the stores, like allowing customers to add cash to their accounts from CVS and 7-Eleven before heading to shop at an Amazon Go store. The company has also started a pilot program so people can use their SNAP benefits at the storefronts.
There have been reports about Amazon turning away customers because they literally couldn't take their money; an unusual tactic for a retail business. Amazon Go stores have even faced criticism because they were turning away people without bank accounts or phones - a population that is disproportionately comprised of immigrants and the poorest citizens.
This has led to cashless stores being banned in Philadelphia and possibly prohibited in Massachusetts and New Jersey. A host of other cities are considering legislation that would ban cashless stores like Amazon Go, including New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC.
This all just goes to show how far ahead of its time the Amazon Go stores were - we’re just not ready to say goodbye to physical currency yet.