Add Starbucks to the list of companies that don’t want your CASH. According to this Seattle Times report, the overpriced coffee giant is testing a cashless store in downtown Seattle.
Starbucks is experimenting with refusing cash at a posh location in downtown Seattle. Since Tuesday, your money is no good at the cafe inside the Russell Investments Center unless it’s in the form of plastic.
There is no sign announcing the policy, but a barista on Wednesday declined to take a $20 bill in payment for a short latte and a piece of lemon cake, explaining that the store is not accepting cash.
A Starbucks spokeswoman said the store at Second Avenue and University is the only one to test accepting “only cashless forms of payment.” The company isn’t saying how long the experiment will last or whether it will be expanded to other locations.
“The test will help us understand how cashless forms of payment may impact our customer experience,” the spokeswoman said by email.
Starbucks says its mobile payment and ordering app is a fast-growing success — to the point that last year it blamed slow sales growth at stores on crowding by people who had ordered from their phones.
The no-cash test may open Starbucks to criticism that such a policy discriminates against so-called “unbanked” people — who don’t have a bank account and therefore are less likely to be wielding plastic. Zhang said that equity issue is “the argument people make with any new technology,” but he’s not buying it.
“The vast, vast majority of people don’t use cash in the first place” for such transactions as buying coffee, he said. What’s more, “Starbucks downtown is on every corner — I don’t think it creates an equity problem” to test a cashless store.
Operationally, he added, the company could see advantages from abolishing cash. With cash, “they need to keep change in the registers, it slows things down, it creates issues of hygiene because money is dirty. They need to go to the bank and deposit it.”