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Your money’s no good at the Lemongrass food truck, which no longer accepts cash

If, like most Americans, you're not carrying around a lot of paper currency these days, step right up to the Lemongrass food truck. The purveyor of Vietnamese noodles, salads and banh mi sandwiches has just gone cash-free on its two vehicles.

The announcement last week was prompted by a number of factors, said Uyen Nguyen, who runs Lemongrass with her husband, Andy.

Most people were using credit or debit cards to pay for their purchases anyway, Nguyen said. "I've never had anyone come to the truck and say, 'I don’t have any credit cards.'"

Another factor: Some customers were taking advantage of the truck's rewards card, which grants customers a free lunch on the purchase of their 10th meal. The cards used to track the purchases are expensive to order, Nguyen said. "We've also noticed a lot of people kind of writing our names to try to get to the 10th voucher," she added. (Really, people?)

Now, Lemongrass will rely solely on Square, the ubiquitous card processing system, to take payment and count purchases, though it will continue to accept cash at special events.

Nguyen anticipates making the change permanent, though she is waiting to see if there are any complaints about the switch. "It's an easier way to account for money," she said.

Food truck owners are well-positioned to determine trends in payment methods, according to Che Ruddell-Tabisola, executive director of the DMV Food Truck association. "The industry in general is recognizing the move to electronic payment," he said, though he's not aware of any other members who have done away with cash as has Lemongrass.

Customers "expect us to take payment in whatever way is easiest for them," Ruddell-Tabisola added.

For example, Giuseppe Lanzone, who runs the Peruvian Brothers truck with his brother, Mario, said he has experimented with Bitcoin as a payment method. He realized that it wasn't "the usual customer" who would use it to pay for a meal. Peruvian Brothers also handles card payments through Square, which accounts for about 55 percent of its sales.

Lanzone is interested in the ongoing developments in cash-free transactions, including with such systems as Google Wallet and Apple Pay.

As a customer, "Ideally, I would just want to have my cellphone in my pocket and that's it," he said.

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