The decision for Baltimore businesses to go cashless has gained momentum recently. One restaurant’s efforts have even earned it a cash prize.
The Land of Kush — the vegetarian restaurant in Seton Hill (840 N. Eutaw St.) — was awarded $10,000 as a part of Visa’s Cashless Challenge, Visa announced on Thursday. The challenge, which kicked off last summer, asked small businesses around the country to make a video about the benefits of going cashless, according to a news release. The Land of Kush was one of 50 winners, and the only one from Maryland.
The prize money is intended “to assist in [the Land of Kush’s] plans for digital commerce enhancements, point-of-sale upgrades, marketing efforts and other business improvements,” the release said. The restaurant is in the process of transitioning to a cash-free system.
Before Baltimore, other cities like New York and San Francisco embraced the movement to go cashless to increase efficiency for employees and convenience for customers.
The Park Café gave up cash to prevent crime, but more businesses are considering it as a way to save time for employees, keep more accurate transaction records and offer convenience for customers. The switch is not without costs. Not only are there merchant fees for debit and credit cards, but many people still rely on cash, particularly those with lower incomes.
Last year, Park Café in Bolton Hill went cashless in response to multiple robberies at the store. Salad chain Sweetgreen also went cashless at its locations in Maryland, Virginia and Washington.
Not accepting cash doesn’t always benefit the consumer, though. In Baltimore, 27 percent of the population was unbanked or underbanked — meaning they don’t have bank accounts, credit cards or checks — according to a 2015 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. study.
Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Meehan contributed to this article.