01 November, 2003
The University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando doesn’t have a fancy name for its smart card. “We just call it the UCF Card,” says the University’s Card Services Manager, Tammy Kidder.
No matter. It’s not the name that counts, it’s what it does. And for UCF students, it does a lot; and it’s about to do more.
UCF, located about 20 miles northeast of Walt Disney World, has had its smart card for five years. With about 45,000 cards in use, the smart card was originally installed by former campus card system vendor Cybermark. It is now supported by the university itself, with help from Smart Centric Technologies International Ltd. based in Dublin, Ireland, and Vision Database Systems, of Jupiter, Florida.
It has truly come into its own this year says Ms. Kidder. “It is taking off unbelievably around our campus. We’ve grown by leaps and bounds.” And now the university is poised for the next step. In beta testing now, Smart Centric’s web revalue product is almost ready for prime time.
Web revalue allows a parent to reload a student’s ID card using any web-enabled computer. By logging onto a specific UCF web site and typing in the student’s 16-digit ISO number and last name, funds can be added to student’s UCF smart card remotely. Using the web revalue product in tandem with UCF’s existing e-Pay system, explained Ms. Kidder, the parent can use a credit card to transfer money to the smart card. The student is then notified, via email, of the available funds. The student can then visit one of a series of on-campus kiosks to complete the pin-protected transaction.
“The product is even flexible enough that a parent or student with a smart card reader at home can do it (reload the card) from the desktop,” says Smart Centric’s CEO Kieran Timmins. Although at UCF we are interfacing with their e-Pay system, web revalue can interface with any credit card payment system.”
UCF’s smart card has three different purses: one for vending with a $100 limit and no PIN protection; a PIN-protected purse for tuition and book store payments, and another PIN-protected purse for retail and restaurant usage.
“We’re looking at making the card available to off-campus vendors. We’ve gotten a lot of requests from both students and merchants,” says Ms. Kidder.
Smart Centric’s Smartcity Acquirer software allows a college to manage a merchant network on their own. “It collects transactions from the vendor remotely,” said Mr. Timmins. “This was the key piece of the puzzle needed for off-campus merchant acceptance. We’ve been testing the off-campus software on campus for some time now and are confident in its performance.”
Another key application for the UCF Card is eligibility tracking to control access to events and facilities. Vision Database Systems provides a software package that captures and processes data from the smart card to enable students to gain access to all sporting programs including football, soccer, volleyball, and others. Once a student enters the sporting event, he or she cannot leave, then re-enter.
Explained Ms. Kidder: when the card is first processed at the gate, a red or green screen pops up on the screen. The green screen shows the student has paid his activity fee and should be admitted. A red screen indicates that the student is no longer enrolled or has not paid the activity fee. In either case, the student cannot enter. It also prevents the student from entering, then passing his/her card to another student outside the gate, a process referred to as ‘anti-passback.’
The university also developed a loyalty program to encourage use of the card. If it is used at any sporting event 15 times, the student’s name goes into a pool for a free trip to the Billboard Music Awards.
“The student government heard what we were doing and wanted us to collect data during homecoming for each student based on his fraternity. The fraternity with the most members attending homecoming events will win an award,” she said. “The card is being used like crazy now.”
The campus has certainly invested in the system to give it the opportunity to succeed. To date, more than 550 unattended readers have been deployed for use in vending, copying, laundry, revalue, pay-for-print and door access environments. An additional 50 online point of sale readers are in use.
Students are responding, using the card for payment in a very big way. During the 2002-03 academic year, smart card purse payments at Barnes & Noble neared $350,000; the Aramark food service locations saw more than $200,000 in purse payments; and Subway topped $175,000.
As new applications continue rolling out via the efforts of the UCF Card’s on-campus and vendor support team, this success should only continue to rise.