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Campus card acceptance at non-traditional points of sale

Mobile devices accepting campus cash catching on

There’s an app for that

Heartland Campus Solutions offers an app that turns an iOS device into a mobile point of sale via WiFi or mobile broadband, says Fred Emery, director of OneCard sales at the company. The mAuthenticate app accepts the OneCard for functions including privileges, meal plans, financial debit transactions, deposits and student information display.

If a student group wants to use the app to accept payments they find the correct person on campus, often the campus card office, and are provisioned access. Heartland can provide a list of companies that offer different card reading hardware.

Students and other groups on campus can snap a mag stripe or contactless card reader into the audio jack of a device, or if something more durable is needed, there are full sleeves available to enable transactions, Emery says. “If you’re doing a lot of sales volume you need a more robust reader but if you’re just doing a sale every few minutes in the student center then any one will work fine,” he adds.

Heartland also has a system that works on Microsoft Surface tablets equipped with sleeves that can replace traditional point-of-sale hardware, Emery explains. “During lunch it can be a standard point of sale, but if they need to go mobile they can unlock it from the dock and take it into the field,” he says.

mPOS revolution underway outside of higher ed

Mobile point-of-sale, or mPOS, is generally defined as a smartphone, tablet or other consumer-oriented mobile device that functions as a point-of-sale terminal and facilitates payment card transactions.

IT advisory company, 451 Research, released its 2015 findings on the installed mPOS base, projecting it to grow from 13.3 million units this year to 54.03 million units in 2019. Drivers behind the growth include enterprise deployments, expansion into new verticals and financial inclusion in developing economies.

In their more basic form, PayPal, Square, intuit and others turn a standard tablet or smartphone into a point-of-sale terminal. On the hardware side, these solutions typically consist of a dongle that plugs into a mobile device’s headphone jack to enable card reading.

Also entering the mPOS fray are hybrid mobile register solutions that combine an off-the-shelf tablet with custom hardware to create an electronic cash register-like experience. Examples of this format include Clover, Square and ShopKeep, each of which offers an experience closer to that of a traditional countertop register.

These systems are also lower cost than traditional point-of-sale hardware, Emery says. Even if you’re adding a cash drawer, receipt printer and other necessary peripherals the tablet configuration is cheaper than a traditional setup. That combined with the portability options give it an advantage, he adds.

CBORD is also enabling student groups to accept campus cards with a mobile app that offers the same functionality of a mobile point of sale, says Grey Bartholomew, product manager for Odyssey Direct. Student groups wanting to accept the campus card can be provisioned access to an app that accepts payments.

“There’s a couple of different options for accepting payments, they can use an attached mag stripe or contactless reader or you can enter the student ID number into the app as well,” Bartholomew explains.

CBORD is also working on the ability to accept payments from a student’s smartphone. Students use an app that presents a bar code that can be scanned at the point-of-sale location to initiate the payment, Bartholomew says.

Use of these systems has been popular on campus as there has been a need for student organizations to accept campus cards and it gives students more places to spend. The cost of these new transaction devices is also a fraction of what traditional point of sale hardware has cost universities in the past, putting the ability to accept payments in almost everyone’s hands.

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