Multiple Credentials and the Language of the Campus Card System

"What if your campus card could do more?" is a question that has propelled technological innovation here at CBORD and has inspired our user community to devise unique applications for their card systems. The advancement in technology and the myriad of applications has led us to quite the linguistic conundrum: is the term 'card system' even appropriate to encompass this type of technology?

Virtual cards through the GET® application and the increased use of biometrics for authentication on campus have complicated the 'card' portion. And card systems have eclipsed their campus meal plan origins—expanding beyond campus boundaries, allowing card use within the surrounding community. So say a student uses GET My Card™ to make a mobile payment at a deli off-campus...

Is that considered a "campus card" transaction? Stepping back from the prescribed language, there have been predictions about the demise of the mag stripe card, yet it has remained the predominant credential issued on campuses. But it is now being accompanied by additional credential types: smart cards, mobile identification, biometrics, etc. And with technology making these more accessible—and economically feasible—we are seeing a higher adoption rate.

Sal Mani, Assistant Director, Networking & Security Systems Integration at The George Washington University, analogizes multiple credentials as "having a key and having a spare key."

So will the card ever be eclipsed by other credential forms? Maybe, but we are still in the infancy of accepting other credentials campus-wide. Currently we are seeing the more advanced credentials being successfully adopted in specific campus areas, e.g., biometric readers to access more restricted rooms and buildings. We are excited to see how the community applies this new technology and where we collectively take the card system. But for the time being, we agree with Sal: multiple credentials are effective and convenient vehicles for student services.

Want to further explore the future of the card system? Read CR80's The Future of the Card System, written by CBORD's Larry Delaney.