Businesses in Oakland's Chinatown switch from cash to credit to try to keep customers safe

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Amid a surge in attacks against Asian Americans in recent years, businesses in Oakland's Chinatown are taking new steps to try and keep their customers safe.

Some, like Big Dish Restaurant, are doing that by switching from being cash-only to now accepting and actively encouraging people to use debit or credit cards.

"The customers they come in and say, oh Chinatown is very scary. And then they say they don't want to come to Chinatown," said Big Dish manager, Queenie Guan.

The idea is that by carrying less cash, customers, and particularly, the elderly will be less of a potential target for criminals.

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Despite the transition from cash to credit, sales at Big Dish have actually increased, and business is better than ever.

"With limited cash in the pocket, they can only buy limited amount of items. So when you're accepting credit cards, they can buy so much more," said Carl Chan, the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

But that doesn't mean the switch hasn't come with its share of challenges.

Chan says generational and cultural norms also play a strong role, with many older Asian Americans having longstanding preferences to use cash.

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"I know it takes a while, but I'm sure that nowadays, many seniors are getting to understand why they should be using credit cards instead of carrying too much cash," he said.

That's why, despite the successful transition, places like Big Dish say they're still taking it slow and trying to ease their customer base into the new normal.

"We still accept cash because some old people they don't like to use the credit cards. They don't know how to use it," Guan said.

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