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The future of payments in campus laundry

Cards, cash or free?

For many college students, leaving the proverbial nest means leaving behind some amenities often taken for granted. One of those, provided the student isn’t within a short drive of home, is having their laundry done for them. In campus residence halls, students must muster up the motivation to do their own laundry.

From a campus perspective, laundry isn’t just one of the oldest student services but one of the earliest supported by the campus card. But as with everything else on campus, laundry services are subject to the changing tides of technology and evolving service models.

Institutions are navigating how to best price laundry services and deploy new technologies like mobile apps. They are even reevaluating the future of the campus card in laundry facilities.

The price is right

Institutions have options when it comes to charging students for laundry service that include pay-per-use, pay-per-semester or even so-called complimentary service.

Students want a reliable, simple and convenient solution. They want to wash their clothes and pay for it in the way they’re most comfortable – with the ID card, credit or debit card.

“When it comes to per-use charges, I think the advantage to the student is that they only pay for what they actually use,” says Steve Swingler, director, software development, CBORD. “For the campus, the advantage is that students are less likely to tie up a washer and dryer for, say, a single towel if they have to pay for each load.

Pay-per-use is further fragmented by payment method with the seemingly archaic coin still playing a bit-part role. “Those who still accept coins are looking to get away from it, so I don’t think it has a future,” Swingler says.

Heartland OneCard director of sales, Fred Emery, sees a small and dwindling number of campuses still holding onto the cash option. “Coins may still be accepted as a form of payment, but even in those instances campuses are not providing change machines,” he says.

The shift, instead, has been to an “any card in your wallet” platform where both a student’s campus card and standard credit or debit card are accepted in laundry facilities, explains Emery.

“Insights specific to laundry aside, the themes that I hear from students regardless of the service are ‘give me options,’ ‘give me convenience,’ and ‘incorporate technology,’” Swingler says.

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