MERCER COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — For decades, businesses wanted cash transactions. For every swipe of the card, a business pays a fee of 2.22 percent of the purchase, according to AARP data.
However, modern point-of-sale technology makes paying electronically much faster than making change.

Plus, during the pandemic, a touch-free payment, such as an iPhone, was safer, prompting a number of retailers to stop accepting cash, although a Harvard University survey of retailers using the Square electronic payment system showed 85 percent of the businesses had no plans to stop accepting cash payments.

In southern West Virginia, small, local businesses accept cash and could prefer it, according to Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias President Jeff Disibbio.

“Obviously there’s an added expense of any time you have to use a credit card,” he noted. “Because there’s a credit card expense, a lot of businesses choose to use only cash. Also, we have some businesses that have been in business for a great number of years, and the saying always has been, ‘Cash is king.'”

For a number of retailers, however, cash tumbled from its pedestal during the pandemic.

A 2019 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation showed about 7.1 million U.S. households did not have a bank account, with Black, Hispanic and Native American households more affected, along with households headed by a person with disabilities.

With retailers opting not to accept paper money and coins, a few states and cities have passed laws that force retailers to accept cash, so those who do not have smartphones or credit cards can pay.

Paying in cash may also help small business owners, who pay transaction fees for electronic payments.

It is not unusual for business owners in southern West Virginia to share the cost with customers or to require customers to pay it, outright.

But shopping at another retailer probably won’t save the two percent, Disibbio cautions.

“The other option is that the business will have to assume the charge, which, probably, essentially, would be offset by raising the price of that good they’re providing,” Disibbio said. “So ultimately, the consumer is paying for it. It’s just how it’s being attributed to the bottom line fee, is the only difference.”