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News in-depth: US university rolls out new contactless campus card
2 Apr 2012

A US university is slowly rolling out a new contactless smart card which offers students the chance to pay for a range of goods and services both on and off-campus.

Quinnipiac University, located in Connecticut, is in the process of replacing the current Qcard - which is based on magnetic stripe technology - with the new contactless smart card, reports Avisian Publications.

Launched in 1987, the current Qcard initially only allowed students to use laundry services and vending machines on the university campus.

The functions of the card have been greatly expanded over the past 24 years, with holders now able to use them for door access, cashless catering, library services, parking fees and much more.

A large-scale overhaul of the system occurred in 2000 which saw the university form partnerships with a wide range of off-campus retailers, with 45 local businesses now accepting the Qcard.

This proved a very popular addition to the scheme with the university's 5,800 students.

John Meriano, section vice president for administrative services at the university, told the news provider: "If they lose the card, they can't eat, can't print. We used to call it their passport to life … It's that important."

The most recent overhaul of the system occurred in May 2011 when officials from the university opted to incorporate Blackboard's Sony FeliCa contactless technology into the Qcard.

"We went with contactless because that's the way the industry is moving," Mr Meriano added.

"We had the opportunity to start moving in this direction and we took it."

One other key reason for making the switch is that many of the door readers which accept the current magnetic stripe cards are aging and in dire need of replacement.

This is a slow and costly process, however, with Quinnipiac University financial systems analyst Sandip Patel estimating that just seven per cent of the 5,000-plus door readers now accept contactless.

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