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Visa Pays Portland Salad Bar to Pledge to Stop Accepting Cash for Food

A minute-long video on the evils of cash recently won Portland’s Crisp $10,000.

Sure, apps like Venmo and Apple Pay have all but eliminated the need to ever carry cash. But, Visa wants to put the nail in the paper currency coffin for good—by paying businesses to stop accepting it.

In July, the company announced a nationwide Cashless Challenge—which it explained in a statement as, "a major effort to encourage businesses to go cashless," and to, "create a culture where cash is no longer king"

The company set aside $500,000 to dole out to 50 small businesses around the nation—an incentive to craft the most compelling argument to go cash-free. To get the money, businesses also had commit "to joining the 100% cashless quest."

Portland's Crisp, essentially a local Subway shop for salads, was a $10,000 winner of that challenge.

"Cash customers slow down the line," Crisp's owner, Emma Dye, explains in the video that earned the restaurant the Visa money—a mock transaction between Dye an annoyingly slow-paying cash customer.

"Plus," Dye explains, as the pretend customer drops a coin on the floor and then sneezes theatrically, "money is dirty. We want to keep our team happy and healthy."

Dye adds that keeping cash on the premises begets robberies (so keeping the restaurant clear of it is safer for her employees) and celebrates not having to balance a till, go to the bank or worry about counterfeit currency.

The campaign from Visa has earned some critics, however, citing the likelihood of removing access for the very poor. Previous moves toward a cashless society—such as India's removal of 500 and 1000-rupee noteshave received criticism that the poorest members of society, who don't have access to banks, would be excluded.

Dye says that Crisp is considering the move to self-serve, card-only kiosks, but will not stop accepting cash anytime soon.

"It's going to take some more time before we're ready to make that leap with our customers," Dye says.