4 minute read

Tap to a Better Campus Experience and Operations

8/29/2023 7:00 PM

You’ve seen it while out running errands: someone pulls out their mobile phone, taps it at a checkout, and makes a payment. No cards, cash, or checks.

Often called tap to pay, this mobile-based payment method is quickly becoming the most popular way to pay for today’s young adults. But that’s only half the story. The NFC technology that allows mobile phones to make payments also facilitates student identification and access to campus buildings, performing both processes with speed, security, and stability.

There are many benefits of NFC-enabled payments and access for higher education. Colleges and universities can strengthen cyber security, handle less cash, collect more and better data, improve processes for staff, and provide a frictionless experience for all who move about and make purchases on campus.

Practical advantages of NFC

NFC is most often used for tap to pay and identification because it is the best technology for providing what payment and access processes require: security, stability, and speed.

To make a purchase or open a door, an NFC-enabled mobile device automatically connects to a point-of-sale terminal or reader, and quickly and securely transmits data between these devices without interference.

Mobile payments from mobile wallets

Digitizing payments and using NFC allows you to also take advantage of mobile wallets, which meet students’ expectations for technology on campus, deliver significant security and compliance benefits, and can support countless use cases.

Often called the mobile generation, today’s students live through their mobile devices and expect the same frictionless, digital-first experience on campus that they experience off campus. Mobile wallets meet that expectation but do so much more.

When a mobile wallet makes a payment, the card number is not transmitted to the merchant, a device-specific number — a token — and a unique transaction code are transmitted. This “tokenization” process means bad actors cannot find financial information if they hacked into a mobile device, a transaction, or the merchant’s system. The tokens also lack value, so hackers cannot use them for fraud and other crimes.

Mobile wallets help with compliance, too. According to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), tokenization is one of the most effective ways to minimize the scope of your PCI compliance.

Carrying an ID in a mobile wallet also improves privacy and security for students since the wallets are locked behind security features accessible only to the owner. If a student loses their phone, they can log into their wallet or student account and turn it off. Many iPhone users can use their ‘Find My Phone’ feature to locate their phone, too.

Mobile IDs in mobile wallets

One of the best aspects of mobile wallets is they go beyond payments and can be used for countless activities. When a campus ID is added to a mobile wallet, it facilitates everything from recording class attendance to entering the rec center to doing laundry in a residence hall.

With a mobile wallet students can tap to pay for printing, parking, or anything else a campus merchant is offering for purchase, including course materials by academic departments and fundraisers for student clubs. You can also connect to meal plans and declining balances, providing even more ways for students to have a seamless, digital experience, even with off-campus merchants.

The mobile ID in the mobile wallet opens doors like a traditional physical card ID but can do so much more. For instance, no more raising your hand to check in to class, your professor can take attendance digitally via mobile ID. The possibilities for what an ID can do are endless, as institutions with integrated campus payments and card systems apply them to new, creative use cases.

Digital campus ID systems also make it easier for administrators to manage access across campus. Tracking usage, adding and removing access for specific users, and locking down areas of campus in case of emergencies are achieved quickly and accurately.

Less cash, more data, improved accounting

Mobile wallets shift the payment mix toward digital methods and a cashless campus. There are many benefits of running a cashless campus, such as seamless student experiences, improved physical security, faster and more accurate accounting processes, and less payment fraud.

Less cash means you get more efficient reconciliation into the general ledger with fewer discrepancies. Refunds are faster and international payments are easier and less risky. And instead of handling cash and checks, staff can focus on value-added projects and provide personalized service.

In digitizing so many campus processes, you get data on the range of activities and greater visibility into student behavior patterns. You can gauge the effects of policies and procedures on those patterns and develop improvements.

Mobilize your campus

Mobile technology is capable of not just handling campus activities but transforming what it’s like for students and staff to do those activities. Speed, accuracy, convenience, and simplification occur for users and administrators.

The campus is also integrated as more offices and their systems connect to the mobile-first ecosystem. Students receive a modern, unified experience and staff see gains in efficiency and productivity. Mobile technology moves campuses forward to a better place.