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Quinnipiac University streamlines its campus commerce and access management system

Proven reliability of contactless, more reasonable card costs, and equipment subjected to less wear and tear
University Business, December 2015
Proven reliability of contactless, more reasonable card costs, and equipment subjected to less wear and tear
Proven reliability of contactless, more reasonable card costs, and equipment subjected to less wear and tear

When Quinnipiac University’s aging door readers had outlived their usefulness, Sandip Patel, financial systems specialist, and John Meriano, associate vice president for auxiliary services, knew they had reached a turning point with its QCard campus card system.

“The door readers basically made the decision for us,” said Patel. “They were coming to end-of-life and we knew we needed to upgrade them.”

With readers already installed university-wide to manage access, vending machines, laundry, food service and bookstore transactions, Quinnipiac faced a choice: upgrade its old hardware and retain its current setup or invest in contactless technology. Quinnipiac was also dealing with several other challenges concerning its existing QCard setup. With students losing their cards an average of two-to-three times a year, the university wanted a more secure system for issuing, freezing and re-issuing QCards. “The magnetic stripes on our traditional cards were pretty easy to duplicate with a $30-$40 decoder,” said Meriano. “We needed a more secure option.”

Quinnipiac also wanted a system that would inflict less wear and tear on its equipment, translating into minimized reader maintenance and fewer service calls for the university’s technical staff, all while increasing satisfaction for students. “Updating our aging card readers not only made good sense, but it also gave us the opportunity to showcase our university’s commitment to innovation,” Patel said. “As technology leaders, we knew it was time to abandon mag stripe cards and go straight to the future of card reader innovation.”

A Natural Technology Choice
Quinnipiac replaced all aging door readers and food service point-of-sale (POS) systems on campus with Blackboard Transact contactless technology. Students were issued new QCards that contained “smart chips” (instead of mag stripes) and that relied on “taps” instead of physical swipes.

The contactless system was rolled out across various departments—from food service to vending to laundry and residence halls and goes beyond just door access and transaction tracking. For example, Quinnipiac’s School of Business uses the ubiquitous platform to track student attendance at department functions and student organizations use it to handle transactions at fundraisers. A physical plant gas pump utilized at two campuses and off-campus, university-owned housing, various athletic events and parking garages also use the innovative QCard system.

The contactless system is always well received by users. “There’s definitely a ‘wow’ factor that comes into play when you can just tap-and-go,” said Patel. “It’s a major upgrade from what we were using previously and a more secure setup for us to administer, monitor, and maintain.”

Measuring the Benefits
Quinnipiac has seen significant benefits from its decision to invest in a state-of-the-art contactless card system. As the only “holder” of the card encoder, for example, the university can rest easy knowing the QCards can’t be duplicated using a simple mag-stripe encoder. The university also benefits from the proven reliability of contactless, more reasonable card costs and equipment that’s subjected to less wear and tear.

The technology has also saved time in busy areas like the campus dining halls. “Now the students tap their own cards and the cashiers don’t even have to be involved,” said Meriano. “That takes seconds off of every transaction in an environment that manages 2,000-3,000 diners per day.”

As it continues to migrate its aging readers to its contactless system, Quinnipiac also leverages its long-standing relationship with Blackboard. “Blackboard is always responsive and supportive,” said Patel, “and very good about pointing us to new solutions and options that will help streamline our operations.”

For more information, visit blackboard.com/transact/qcs

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