You stop for a cup of coffee on the way to work, take a couple dollar bills out of your pocket, and the barista tells you, "We don't accept cash."

The cashless business model is far from common in New Jersey, but a state lawmaker can see a future — not too far away — in which certain establishments require you use plastic during the payment process.

So he's behind a piece of advancing legislation that would put a stop to the practice before it can really get off the ground.

Under the measure sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Glocuester), chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee, retailers who prohibit buyers from paying with cash would be subject to a fine of up to $2,500 for an initial violation. The fines could jump up to $20,000 after numerous violations.

"I think that it would be good to have something on the books to make sure that people that show up at a retail establishment with legal U.S. tender are able to use it," Moriarty said during a committee hearing on the measure.

The bill was passed by the full Assembly and referred to a Senate committee in late June. The measure would not apply to transactions made online or through the mail.

"It's my feeling that retail establishments should not discriminate against cash-paying customers," Moriarty said. "We have a lot of people who do not have access to credit. They could be poor, they could be young and have not established credit yet. And I don't think we need to be marginalizing these people."

Moriarty cited a 2017 contest by Visa that was offering $10,000 rewards to small businesses if they made their payment technology completely digital. And media reports have cited smaller chains who've either tested the idea or implemented it.

A cashless operation, businesses say, could mean a speedier checkout process that would benefit both the business and consumer. No-cash establishments could be considered safer as well, as they're less likely to be the target of a robbery.

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