Visa has declared war on cash and its "opening salvo" is to start paying restaurants $10,000 to go completely cash free. The credit card giant is this week announcing a new plan to hand out thousands of dollars to up to 50 small food and restaurant vendors if they agree to stop taking cash.
If a restaurant opts in, it'll get a $10,000 gift from Visa, which can be used to pay for technology upgrades and marketing. Those tech upgrades could mean installing platforms that that accept payments from phones, smart watches or other devices. In return, Visa wants the merchant to agree to stop accepting cash, the company said.
Cash currently accounts for around 30 percent of U.S. retail personal spending, according to recent Nilson Report data.
"To Visa, a cashless culture means convenience, security and ease of use. That translates to freedom for consumers and merchants alike," said Jack Forestell, Visa's head of global merchant solutions, in a statement.
The Visa press release is titled "Visa to Help U.S. Small Businesses Go Cashless." The company also decided to name the initiative "The Visa Cashless Challenge." In total, $500,000 will be awarded to "50 eligible US-based small business service owners," but they must "commit to joining the 100% cashless quest."
Further salvos by Visa include running digital payment acceptance at the upcoming Formula E race in Brooklyn and releasing a report on "Cashless Cities: Realizing the Benefits of Digital Payments” later this year. Preliminary data from the report states that if 100 cities went cashless they would accrue net benefits of $312 billion annually.
"With transactions poised to increasingly move away from traditional point of sale in the future (phones, cars, etc.), Visa believes we are on the cusp of an "explosion" in card acceptance locations," wrote George Mihalos, an analyst at Cowen and Company, in a recent note to investors.
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