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ITC Systems’ campus micropayment solutions continue to evolve as technology changes

ITC Systems represents itself as the source for “transaction control solutions for tomorrow.” The company designs, manufactures and implements card-based solutions to campuses for their micropayment transaction needs. Additionally the company maintains a healthy channel partner relationship with key resellers to the higher education market.

ITC Systems started in 1989 through the acquisition of a card systems group owned by Hudson’s Bay Vending in Toronto. From the beginning the company’s focus was on the campus market. “I saw an opportunity with regard to card systems in general and specifically for those applications that accepted coins for the small purchases,” says Cam Richardson, ITC’s president and CEO. As the company gained traction in the Canadian higher education and library markets, it began to design and manufacture its own products, both terminals and software.

In 1994 ITC opened a U.S. subsidiary in Atlanta, targeting the same market that it had gained a reputation for in Canada. “The market was somewhat fragmented and we were ready to expand,” says Richardson. “We continued to develop our products including one of the first photo ID programs in DOS for a Fargo Electronics printer. Fargo is now part of HID Global, and continues to be an ITC Systems partner.”

In 2001 ITC Systems acquired Access Control Technologies, the St. Louis-based stored value card reader manufacturing company that had been ITC’s primary supplier for this type of technology. The acquisition brought ITC one step closer to vertical integration, explains Richardson, as it now had the ability to produce in house almost everything it supplied its clients.

ITC Systems became a major supplier of smart card terminals to international transaction companies such as Smart City and Mondex. One of its clients was the campus card provider Cybermark (a Smart City reseller). In 2002 ITC worked with the owners to provide a transition for the university clients during the wind down of Cybermark. After the Cybermark assets were distributed, ITC reached out to the former Cybermark customers and took a greater role in the campus card market.

“Cybermark brought us the ability to reach out and touch other schools that we hadn’t previously had an opportunity to meet, thereby expanding our ability to serve this market in the U.S.,” says Richardson.

Today ITC provides products and services for many higher education campuses worldwide. “Our largest installed base is in Canada where we started out,” says Richardson. “For instance, in Toronto all of the colleges, universities and public libraries employ our solution in one form or another.” He estimates that ITC has manufactured more than 60,000 terminals, sold more than 25 million cards and enabled more than one billion transactions.

The company’s first one card university client was Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. It had 10,000 students in 1989 when ITC implemented a single card for copy, print, laundry, vending and food service. The campus continues to work with ITC Systems 20-years later.

“Our largest campus account is the University of Toronto with an enrollment of 65,000 students, each with a chip-based ID card,” says Richardson. ITC has worked with Toronto since 1989 when it started with a copier solution for the library. Today the card is used across the campus for applications including food service, vending, copy, print, laundry and back end reconciliation and settlement software.

ITC’s first product was a stored value magnetic card solution. In the mid-1990s the company moved to chip-based stored value, and now the offering includes online TCP/IP based products. All of the traditional applications found in a micropayment environment are supported by the online products.

Card types accepted by the readers include standard ABA encoded mag stripes, barcoded media, HID prox, HID iClass, and MiFare contactless cards. Richardson sees the industry moving towards contactless technology. “It makes sense in our fast paced world. It’s great for security and convenient for the user.”

“Our product research and development cycle is primarily based on input received from our customers and their desires,” says Richardson. “The key to success in this environment lies in listening to your marketplace and understanding technology.”

Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, with a student enrollment of 22,000, initially implemented ITC’s online solution with a mag stripe card for administrative copy and print tracking as well as student pay for print/copy functions. “After a year of running the copy/print program they came to us inquiring about adding food service to the mix,” says Richardson. “We then implemented cash register stations at their food outlets linked via TCP/IP, online to their account-based back end.”

Adds Gary Dalton, Kennesaw’s associate director for auxiliary services: “We wanted to receive payment on a per impression basis and we needed a management system that involved swiping the card and paying for copies used. Since the solution put in by our copier contractor included ITC Systems’ Multiplan back end database product, we were able to add retail food management and our bookstore to the system.”

“Each card has an account, even guest cards,” adds Dalton. “You can put money on those accounts or have charge privileges. Every KSU ID card issued is managed by Multiplan.”

At the new dining hall, ITC integrated biometric hand scanners to the system with turnstile access. “We needed a way to insure, that for the unlimited plan only the individual card holder is the one eating,” says Dalton. “We found that parents wanted to know that their child was being fed so the card matching with the hand scan ensured this occurred and that the card was not being given to or used by another.”

Value can be added to debit accounts at any of the seven K-Cash Loaders located at strategic locations on campus. KSU is expanding the applications to include the vending machines and parking.

“We use a lot of what ITC offers,” Dalton adds. “We continually interact with them and I know that if we need to have a report or a feature added, they’ll put it in. They build the products we need, for a reasonable price and if there are any problems or issues they’ll fix it. What more do you need from a vendor?”

That type of praise is what keeps the team at ITC Systems going after more than two decades in the campus card business. “One of our claims to fame is that we supply cost recovery solutions that won’t leave you recovering your costs,” concludes Richardson. “We listen to our customers and our mandate is theirs.”

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