Emerging technologies are starting to change the physical characteristics of campus cards. Universities and colleges are trading in plastic campus cards for contactless stickers, which still offer students the same benefits as physical cards without the hassle of adding another card to their wallet.
In fact, while most campus cards will continue to use a magnetic stripes for the foreseeable future, “by 2015 contactless will become the preferred campus card technology,” predicts Robert Huber, a campus card business consultant with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Robert Huber Associates. And despite worry that going contactless will be costly, schools will only have purchase new cards and readers, Huber adds. Schools can purchase readers for less than $1,000, he says.
Although more than 100 schools have launched some form of contactless application on their campus cards, most solely for door access, Near Field Communication technology could increase schools’ interest in contactless payment, according to Huber. NFC supports two-way contactless communications between different NFC chips.
Morehead State University in Kentucky and its six satellite campuses have been using contactless technology since 2008. The school uses CBord Group Inc.’s Odyssey Privilege Control System campus card program and deploys iClass readers around campus, Read Winkelman CBord vice president of sales, tells PaymentsSource. CBord’s partner, Irvine, Calif.-based security company Hid Global, supplied and designed the contactless readers.
The readers enable students to tap their EagleCard ID cards on a sensor to purchase meals, access campus buildings, buy books and purchase snacks from campus vending machines.
The change to contactless cards actually cost less than what the school paid for special-order mag-stripe cards, according to Doug Snedegar, EagleCard coordinator for the university. The school was planning to deploy smart card readers only to realize contactless systems were a less expensive option.
Heartland Payment Systems Inc. also provides schools with a contactless program. The Princeton, N.J.-based company’s OneCard is a multifunctional campus identification card that may also serve as a prepaid card insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Universities also can distribute financial-aid funds to the card through Heartland’s other campus card program called Acceluraid (see story).
The OneCard, which either can be in the form of a magnetic stripe card or a contactless sticker, enables students to access campus buildings, vote in campus elections, check out library books, and track bookstore inventory.
The OneCard system actually is cost effective for universities because “our software is modular in design,” Fred Emery, vice president and general manager of Heartland Campus Solutions, tells PaymentsSource. Universities may buy as many modules as they need, such as the dining module, vending module or door-access module, Emery adds. “They can start with one and add another later on.”
Among the schools using Heartland’s OneCard system are Emory University, Hoftstra University and Mount Holyoke College.