For poorer Americans, cash is still king, and they can still rely on physical cash when they can get it. But if we moved to a cashless economy, we’d be forcing them to rely exclusively on these alternative services. As it stands now, about 7 percent of all Americans already rely on these services exclusively (amounting to roughly nine million households), while another 19.9 percent combine these services and traditional banking.
The fix to this problem would be to establish a public banking service, open to all, provided by the government the same way it currently provides cash. That certainly wouldn’t be unheard of; several state governments already have public banks, and there are growing calls for the post office to provide free basic banking services to anyone who needs them. Indeed, the national government already runs a public bank as well, in the form of the Federal Reserve. It’s just a bank for other banks rather than for the citizenry.