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Flashback Friday: Married to the mag

Andrew Hudson   ||   May 24, 2019  ||   ,

Much of the card-technology discussion today is driven by smart cards and mobile credentials -- and for good reason. They're established technologies that have proven their worth as more secure campus card solutions than their prox and mag stripe precursors.

And yet there remains a staunchly loyal, and surprisingly large, group of institutions that continue to issue these less secure, legacy card technologies. In fact, the decision of whether a university should upgrade its card technology remains one of the most popular discussions in the campus card space to this day.

At CR80News, it's easily been one of the most covered topics over the years, and in our 2012 coverage "Married to the mag" we tried to better understand why campuses were so reticent to make the switch.

For some the most immediate reason was simply the reliability of the mag stripe card, which at the time of publication, had already been leveraged on campuses for 20 years or longer. It's long been proven that mag stripe as a technology is inherently insecure and has since been eclipsed by the security capabilities of smart card technology. But in terms of convenience mag stripe has been hard to beat. It just works, and for many institutions that's all that mattered.

In addition to some campuses remaining loyal to mag stripe for convenience and stability reasons -- because recarding can be a nightmare -- other campuses avoided upgrades because the costs were too prohibitive. Some universities and card offices don’t want to, or can't, dedicate the funds needed to support a campus wide re-card, install new readers and re-tool its infrastructure.

Included in our coverage were testimonials from Valdosta State, Oklahoma City University and Mount Holyoke who at the time were all engaged in different stages of the decision making process. It's interesting to take a look back at this process from a place where mag stripe has largely given way to more secure credentials, and most recently, mobile credentials.

For more on this card technology migration discussion, check out our full coverage in "Married to the mag."

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