Israel tightening restrictions on cash use in purchases


Illustrative - 200 NIS bills. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel is tightening laws on monetary transactions that will push the nation toward an “almost complete replacement of the use of cash in the future.”

The original law was passed in 2018 and went into effect January 2019, but on Aug. 1 the cash ceiling will be reduced from $3,200 to $1,745 (11,000 to 6,000 shekels) for a single payment.

In addition to this push for more digital transactions – payments which can be easily monitored – the government is also looking to restrict the amount of cash one can keep at home to a total of $58,000 in any currency, Israel National News reported.

According to Globes, Israel’s business news website, “The Law for the Reduction in the Use of Cash was designed to change the public’s consumption habits and encourage a switch to digital means of payment, with a view to almost complete replacement.”

While the intent of the law is part of a global agenda to reduce “illicit capita” such as tax evasion and money laundering, it is expected to hurt Israeli handymen, such as plumbers and electricians, freelancers and also the Arab-Israeli sector which largely relies on cash for all purchases.

Israelis already widely use credit cards and phone applications, such as Apple Pay, to make payments. Other popular are payment apps are Bit and Paybox, which allow individuals to simply and quickly transfer money to each other.

But some handymen are not equipped to take credit cards payments or rely on cash or checks, which are subject to the same restrictions unless they have the payer’s identification number on them.

The penalties for exceeding the cash limit also apply to tourists who must abide by the limits as well. Cash may not be split into payments either, according to the law. And sanctions are imposed on both individuals and merchants.

Since the law went into effect more than three years ago, sanctions have totaled some $1.45 billion on 12,500 business owners and customers, according to Globes.