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Law confirms shopkeepers cannot refuse cash payments

07:13 21/02/2024

Belgian shops, cafes and restaurants can not refuse cash payments, even if, for a few years, some restaurants, food trucks and thrift shops including Episode have only accepted cards.

The federal government has approved a bill to that effect proposed in April 2023 by Socialist economy minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne.

Current rules around paying with money are based on European case law, but uncertainty remained.

“There was no basis for shopkeepers to refuse cash,” said Etienne Mignolet, an economy ministry spokesperson.

To punish infringements against the rules, a law in Belgium was also needed. This means that from now on, shopkeepers can be sanctioned if they refuse cash payments.

While the news may please many people irritated at having to use a card on every occasion - or give their child one instead of money - many shopkeepers disagree with the obligation to handle cash.

“It is a question of practicality, but also safety for staff, as now there is no money in the cash tills or a need to go to the bank to deposit the money. We are also avoiding burglaries,” said Thibault Marie, an Uccle cafe owner that, until now, required customers to make pay electronically.

Cheesemaker Octave Laloux, who runs one of the capital’s three Saint Octave fromageries, said he had no choice but to accept the law.

But he does not understand it, particularly given the drastic decrease of banks and ATMs in the city. “There are no more places to put cash,” he said.

Meanwhile, Unizo, the organisation that represents small and medium-sized enterprises in Belgium, slammed the new law as a “bullying measure”. “The government wants to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” managing director Danny Van Assche said.

“The 6% of business owners who are cashless – because their customers are simply not asking for it – must now adapt. Yet again, these are additional regulations costing time and money, even though these businesses were operating perfectly without using cash.”

Unizo is not opposing cash purchases, but the obligation now imposed on shopkeepers to accept them. The union believes that, like customers, retailers should have a free choice in deciding what form of payment to accept.

Belgian consumer organisation Test-Achats on the other hand said ensuring free choice of how people pay was welcome.

"There are a few exceptions to this rule, like proportionality," said spokesperson Julie Frère. "You would not pay for bread with a €200 note for example. In this case, the shopkeeper has the right to refuse."

In general, the group said that if a customer is not allowed to pay with cash, he or she should complain to the economy ministry. This is not new – in 2022, 316 refusals of cash payments were notified to this body.

As it stands, from July 2022, it has been mandatory for businesses to accept payments by card - although many small stores and night shops impose a minimum spend - or at least one other electronic means, such as mobile banking.

Photo: Thierry Roge/Belga

Written by Liz Newmark



It is obvious that Danny Van Assche is totally oblivious, maybe on purpose, that cash is the ONLY DEMOCRATIC and self-sovereign form of money that exists.
Small and medium business which he supposedly represents (God help them), have thrived for millennia only on cash.
Imagine that!

All this recently invented electronic and digital "money" stuff, is for jokers who willingly enter the rabbit hole of self bondage.
Please do so at your own risk and leave the rest of us out of your nonsense.

Feb 21, 2024 23:18
Calling BS

Kinda absurd and a bit of BS saying that “we had only cash before and things went just fine bla bla bla”.

You know what we had before, too? Smallpox. Was that good, too?

Feb 22, 2024 06:32