Contactless Cards Implementation

So you have decided to enhance your campus card program by using contactless smart card technology within your campus card program.  That is an excellent decision and one that will provide your campus, and cardholders, with benefits.  Now comes the fun part, implementing the contactless smart card.  Before you know it your cardholders will be tapping for entry and payments all over campus.  Let’s start the process by looking at three main areas for contactless implementation – let’s start with the card and in a future post we will cover the reader and the cardholder.

The Card

When planning your contactless card rollout there are a number of considerations to take into account such as what information should be on the card, should a multiple technology card be used, and how to get the cards to the cardholder.

If you have an ID card in place now I recommend you review what you have on the card and decide is it really needed or does anyone use it.  If you do not have a card please consider what your campus would need most when identifying the cardholder.  The goal is to utilize card reading devices or terminals wherever possible and not rely on printed information on the card.  That being said, what we see most often is a photo, name, classification, disclaimer that includes how to return the card if lost or stolen and a numeric identifier.

Quite often campuses will need to determine if other technology is needed on the card in addition to the contactless technology, such as a barcode or magnetic stripe.  Barcodes are still quite common in campus libraries for patron recall to check out books.  I recommend moving to an alternate method for patron recall whenever possible however if this is not possible you may need to plan on including the barcode on your card.

Many campuses do debate removing the magnetic stripe totally from the card.  My recommendation for an initial roll out is to continue providing a multiple technology card where the contactless technology is used wherever possible but leaving the magnetic stripe on the card for backup in case there are areas or alternate systems that do not have a capability to accept contactless technology.  The magnetic stripe does not increase the cost of the card much at all and it provides flexibility. You may review areas of acceptance after the initial roll out period and can stop issuing cards with a magnetic stripe at a later date if it really is not used.  It additionally allows for you to phase in readers for acceptance if you already have a system in place; providing you the opportunity to replace existing magnetic stripe readers with a phased in approach or as budget allows.

For those campuses that do not have a system or card in place, or those that would like to provide a new card with contactless technology all at once, a carding event is needed to issue cards to cardholders.  Best advice to achieve success is to communicate to the cardholders what the process will be and plan, plan, plan.

For those with a system and card in place, you may opt to phase in your contactless card by providing them to new students or select groups to reduce initial work load or spread the expense over several years.  No matter what option you choose you will need to plan to implement the proper contactless readers in order to use your new contactless cards.

Please check back for Part 2, which will touch upon the reader and the cardholder for contactless implementation.