The Netherlands is one of the European countries where e-money has taken the most root: it is almost the norm to see in supermarkets, chain stores, and even independent coffee shops, “Cash Only – Hier Alleen PINNEN” signs. While it is possible to pay even small amounts with a card, many people wonder whether the practice is actually legal.
So can shops and restaurants refuse to accept cash? The answer is directly on the government website and is quite clear: “The law does not oblige you to accept a form of payment. A shopkeeper can refuse cash (notes and coins) and limit payments with a debit or credit card. Normally, it will indicate which methods are not accepted. For example, by attaching stickers and other signs on the till or shop window”.
No obligation, therefore, to accept cash and no prohibition to apply surcharges – as happens in some places – to those who decide to ‘penalize’ cash-paying customers. Only requirement: it is obligatory to indicate this clearly (even if, as above, the law does not prescribe particular methods).
Case closed, then? For shops and restaurants, yes. For the many municipal administrations, which have recently decided to accept only cards, the issue is more complex: if, on the one hand, the government declares that it only wants to supervise that the transactions take place correctly, ignoring the way they are done, when it comes to public offices the matter is complicated. Consumer associations and other associations for the protection of the disabled or representing the rights of the elderly fear that these groups may be penalised by a more complex payment system than cash.