July 15 (UPI) -- Visa is challenging small restaurants, cafés and food trucks to stop accepting cash.
The credit card company announced in a news release this week it is offering $500,000 to 50 eligible U.S.-based eateries to go 100 percent cashless.
Restaurants signing up can get a $10,000 gift from Visa to help pay for technology upgrades, the San Francisco-based company said. The businesses are asked to describe what cashless means for them, their employees and customers.
"At Visa, we believe you can be everywhere you want to be, and that it should be easy to pay and be paid in more ways than ever -- whether it's a phone, card, wearable or other device," Jack Forestell, Visa's head of global merchant solutions, said in a statement. "We have an incredible opportunity to educate merchants and consumers alike on the effectiveness of going cashless."
Credit card companies charge processing fees to businesses for the plastic charges.
"The important thing to realize is that going with 'fast and easy' is not always the best and most cost effective," Marco Carabjo, a credit expert, wrote in a 2013 U.S. Small Business Administration blog post.
"Typical merchant account companies can charge up to 5 percent of everything a company earns with prices consisting of merchant processing costs, gateway fees, interchange costs, Visa, MasterCard, American Express charges, statement fees and so on."
But Visa said it recently conducted a study it said showed that if businesses in 100 cities transitioned from cash to digital, their cities could see net annual benefits of $312 billion.
"In New York City alone, businesses could generate an additional $6.8 billion in revenue and save more than 186 million hours in labor, by making greater use of digital payments," Visa said in a release. "This amounts to more than $5 billion annual costs savings for businesses in New York."
As of Dec. 31, there were 3.1 billion Visa credit cards and 141 billion total transactions, the company reported on its website.
Financial Times reported last year China's state-run UnionPay has surpassed Visa as the world's largest card processor in terms of the value of the transactions.
UnionPay had 37 percent share of the $21.6 trillion charges in 2015 compared with 32 percent for Visa and 20 percent for MasterCard, according to a study from the British consultant RBR.