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UNC Charlotte goes contactless

Campus-wide recarding in full swing

The 49er ID cards at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have officially gone contactless, with issuance of the new credentials now in full swing for all faculty, staff and students.

The new cards mark a transition from mag stripe to ISO+Desfire credentials, says Gabe Gerber, business systems analyst at UNCC. In addition to the security upgrade of the new contactless credentials, the long-used magnetic stripe at UNCC will be no more. The chip capabilities will be utilized for tapping in at campus dining halls, residence halls and other campus facilities where cards were previously being swiped.

The move to contactless means the university is also facing a campus-wide recarding. New students enrolled at the start of last semester were included in a soft launch of the contactless cards, with UNCC’s full campus community now able to receive the new credentials.

According to a report from the Niner Times, the new cards will feature two numbers, maintaining the UNC Charlotte ID number as well as an additional 16-digit card number. The 16-digit card number will link all transactions to the student and will change each time a card needs to be replaced.

“Everything has gone from mag stripe to chip, so what we’ve done is generally followed how it’s been adopted throughout the industry,” said 49er Card Office Tech Support Specialist Anthony Smucler, in a Niner Times interview. “Mag stripe inherently cannot be made secure.”

The photos printed to the previous 49er cards also had a tendency to smear off over time and increased use, so the card office has added an overlay to the photos on the new cards. This measure coupled with the tap rather than swipe is expected to boost the overall lifespan of the new IDs.

UNCC is also working with the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) to embed the CATS transit app onto the new 49er card in a move that will provide students with a pass to ride buses, the trolley and a light rail system. The all access pass, if approved, will be covered by students’ transportation fee, which is set to increase next year.

The transit app is a plan for the future, but once deployed, will be fully embedded in the cards and designed for future flexibility, says UNCC’s Gerber. “I believe the cards will use full contactless once the light rail to UNC Charlotte is completed this summer, and the cards will be tapped on and off light rail.”

To aid in the transition and recarding process, the university has posted an informational page to the 49er Card office website.

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