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TouchNet Blog: Three steps to prep for NFC mobile credentials

Andrew Hudson   ||   Sep 24, 2021  ||   ,

The benefits of moving to mobile credentials on campus are well documented, but a recent TouchNet blog looks at the topic of mobile from a slightly different angle, posing the question: is your campus ready for NFC mobile credentials? The move to an NFC mobile credential promises to boost convenience and security for student transactions, but there's some significant prep work that needs to take place before a campus provisions its first mobile credential.

In a recent blog post to the company's website, TouchNet explains that to fully maximize NFC on campus, and for students to add their mobile student IDs into digital wallets, it's important to have your ducks in a row. Here's a few steps that TouchNet believes are a good start for a university or college that's keen to adopt mobile:

STEP 1: Mobile assessment of campus services

The first step is to identify all of the campus services that leverage the campus ID system for transactions. Where is the campus card used today? How do students use their IDs on campus?

This will be different campus to campus, but some of the core examples include:

  • Access to residence halls and rooms
  • Checking into classes and labs
  • Library services
  • Copy/print
  • Parking garage access
  • Meal plans and dining hall access
  • Event ticketing
  • Declining balance accounts.

Establishing this baseline understanding of the campus card's role in students' lives will help you identify additional services that can be connected to the card. Just as important, this survey of card services can help determine where to enable NFC in the backend software and where NFC readers will need to be installed.

STEP 2: Integrated software solutions

Another consideration that TouchNet poses is that despite the campus card being connected to the services outlined above, it doesn’t mean that the campus card can inherently complete NFC transactions. The software underpinning each service needs to have NFC capabilities activated.

Ensuring that the campus card system can communicate to all other campus systems -- ERP, SIS, and payment systems -- is imperative to enabling NFC across campus and for various other software applications.

Credentialing and payment solutions must be able to leverage NFC technology to complete transactions on and around campus. This often means sharing NFC credentials across systems, including from the campus card access system, classroom check ins, meal plans, and declining balances.

Step two takes the list of card services from step one and turns on NFC capabilities for each system.

STEP 3: NFC enabled hardware

Once the desired card services and software systems can process NFC transactions, TouchNet's final prep component is to have the proper NFC-enabled hardware in place.

Upgrading hardware for the full suite of card services is a big job for any campus, but TouchNet stresses that this hardware upgrade can be scaled over the course of time. If a one-time, campus wide NFC reader overhaul isn't realistic, TouchNet suggests starting with the most vital card services and folding in additional features as you are able.

Once in place, NFC mobile credentials help deliver a more efficient and secure campus experience. There will be capital investments in order to make NFC and mobile credentials work across campus, but the move to mobile can reduce student lines, as well as alleviate staffing and equipment needed to support physical card production and management.

Students also experience benefits in their day-to-day with improved convenience, more secure payments and access, and a smoother experience with administration.

For campuses looking to undertake the move to NFC mobile credentials, TouchNet is offering its insights from point-of-sale readers, to building access, to systems integration. Check out TouchNet's mobile ID assessment to help determine if there are gaps in your campus' prep strategy.

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