4 minute read

Is Your Campus NFC Ready?

9/21/2021 6:00 PM

Imagine if your students could gain access to their dorm, enter the dining hall, and check in to class by simply tapping their phone. The benefits of campus IDs in digital wallets are well known. Convenience being chief among them, but also increasing safety by reducing physical contact during interactions on campus and so much more. Vital to implementing phone-based credentials (i.e. campus IDs in digital wallets) is the use of near field communication (NFC) technology.

The applications of NFC are nearly limitless. Truthfully, any activity that a student would normally complete with a campus card, payment card or ticket, can be done with NFC technology. And NFC is actually not limited to mobile devices, but to fully maximize NFC on campus, you’ll want to make it possible for students to add their mobile student IDs into digital wallets. 

So what makes this a reality? The key is a special provisioning of your campus card solution that allows card users to add mobile credentials to their digital wallet. However, a few steps need to come first before a university or college can adopt this strategy.

STEP 1: Mobile Assessment of Campus Services

The first step towards an NFC-enabled campus and phone-based credentials is to identify all of the campus services that use the campus ID system for transactions. Take a look at your campus. Where is your campus card used today? How do students use their IDs on campus? 

Examples include:

  • Access their dorm buildings and rooms
  • Check into classes and labs
  • Library services (check out books, pay for printing)
  • Enter parking garages
  • Meal plans in the dining hall
  • Ticketed events and venues
  • Declining balances
  • and more...

Once you have a comprehensive view of where and how your campus card is already used, you can identify additional services that can be connected to your card, and more importantly, work to enable NFC in the backend software and install NFC readers where needed.

STEP 2: Integrated Software Solutions

Just because your campus card is connected to the services listed above, doesn’t mean that your campus card can inherently complete NFC transactions. The software behind each service needs to have NFC capabilities activated. Ensuring that the campus card system can communicate to all your other campus systems (such as ERP, SIS, and payment systems) is imperative to enabling NFC across campus and in these various software applications.

Credentialing and payment solutions need to be able to use NFC technology to complete transactions on and around campus. This often means sharing NFC credentials across systems; from your campus card access system and classroom check ins to meal plans and declining balances. Step two takes the list from step one and turns on NFC capabilities for each system.

STEP 3: NFC-Enabled Hardware

The last piece of the puzzle after having services connected to your campus ID card and ensuring those software systems can process NFC transactions is to have NFC-enabled hardware in place. 

Upgrading hardware for the list above may seem daunting, but the great news is that you can scale as you go. If you can’t go all in upfront, pick the top benefits you want to use and start there. Add in features as you are able. Hardware can be the scary part, but don’t let that deter you from exploring your options on your way to a contactless campus.

The Benefits Outweigh the Costs

Once in place, NFC and mobile credentials help deliver a more efficient and secure campus experience for all. Some capital investments have to take place for NFC and mobile credentials to work across campus, but by undergoing this type of digital transformation, you are able to reduce the student lineups, staffing, and equipment needed to support physical card production and management. The student experience is better, safety is improved, payments are more secure, and administration is smoother.

Curious to see how close you are to being ready for NFC and digital wallets? From point-of-sale readers to building access to systems integration, our mobile ID assessment will help you determine if you have any gaps to fully enable using NFC (and phone-based digital credentials) across your campus.

Request a Mobile Assessment Now