article

Debit Cards

Posted: 09/1997

Debit Cards

FSU’s Smart Card Platform:
Students Have More Options than Ever

By Jennifer Knapp

Many in the telephony industry will remember the
standard college identification of the last decade. Although most
were fitted with bar codes and magnetic stripes, the cards’
capacities were not marketed as service oriented. Most were used
for vending, making copies and gaining building access.

It is only in the last few years that opportunities have
arisen for the integration/amalgamation of telecommunications and
the student ID card. MCI is working with CyberMark to identify
what the next generation of card will be, says Mark Casey,
general manager of campusMCI services. The metamorphosis of a
platform at Florida State University is the next generation Casey
speaks of. As a long distance function of this card platform, the
calling card application has tapped into a market that previously
was unprofitable.

"The FSU card has been in place for about 10 years now,
in various states of technology," says Chris Corum, director
of systems marketing for CyberMark Inc. "With the chip card
that went into place about a year ago, CATC (FSU’s Card
Application Technology Center) began migrating some of the
applications from the magnetic stripe applications onto the smart
cards."

The chip for the card comes from Gemplus, a provider of smart
cards as well as security access modules. Placed on the front of
the card, the Gemplus chip is programmable, much like a floppy
disk for a personal computer. The university decides what will be
programmed on each chip for access to campus services, which now
also include long distance platforms and banks. The card also
serves as the student ID.

The chip card also provides greater security than those with
the magnetic stripe, Corum says. Whereas the magnetic stripe card
was intended to store lower dollar amounts for vending and
photocopies, CATC identified a need for secured, high-dollar
amounts on the ID card. It saw potential in providing a safe
place to store money, so in turn the student would spend that
money. This allowed the university to have a say in where the
students spent their money as the cards are accepted at campus
stores and selected companies that participate in the school’s
program.

One option students will encounter this year will be to use
their ID cards to shop in local area stores. To implement this
option, FSU signs agreements with merchants who will then buy or
lease a VeriFone reader. VeriFone’s smart card reader/writer
devices are used to conduct attended debit, credit and smart card
point-of-sale transactions in a store or over the Internet. The
reader can be modified to accept smart cards as well as Visa or
Mastercard. The integration of the merchant into the FSU card
processes and the organization of the information passed between
merchant and customer is the responsibility of CyberMark’s
services as a consultant and card issuer.

The platform, however, does not stop at the boundaries of the
ID card itself. Tied into this service-providing tool is a campus
dial-up service. MCI worked with CATC for about four years
developing a long distance calling functionality for the
university. But the calling card associated with the ID card has
not been successful thus far, according to Corum. This is due, in
part, to students who come to the campus with a preferred long
distance carrier. If a student’s preferred carrier is not the
same as the ID card, the loyalty to one’s original provider is
more likely to occur.

However, the discounts a university’s long distance carrier
can offer might be enough to convert some students. "It is a
matter of evaluating what the profit benefit of the deal
is," says Janet Taylor, director of college marketing in
Sprint’s consumer services group. "We’re trying to market to
both (the students and parents) because they are getting a very
good deal that the university has negotiated, so that makes it to
their advantage to use the university card." The university
must decide whether there is a marketing benefit to branding the
long distance service, Taylor adds.

FSU’s response was to create a dial-up system, with which
students check grades, receive voice mail or check bank accounts.
Financial aid checks are no longer issued by paper, but placed
immediately into a bank account associated with the ID card.
Students merely call the campus line and check their account to
verify their financial aid has been deposited there. By providing
that service, the university no longer has to cut checks for an
average of 18,000 people who receive aid. Furthermore, those
18,000 students do not have to stand in lines waiting to pick up
their checks.

FSU encourages students to use the dial-up by placing
administrative messages on the system. Moreover, the long
distance calling card functionality was placed under the dial-up
services, giving less attention to the long distance service
provider. This decreases the chance of students not using the
card so they can use their preferred carrier. In continuing
efforts to urge students to use the smart card platform, the
university has created loyalty programs that reward cardholders
for frequent use. Each program is set up with a counter to read
usage and assign points which can be redeemed for merchandise or
event discounts. These discounts can also be extended to area
merchants who wish to participate in the point program.

As the FSU smart card platform has grown, CATC has received
numerous inquiries and requests for advice in regard to the new
smart card system. Corum explains that "CATC could consult,
assist and help companies like MCI to sign up schools and work
with them, but because CATC is a public institution (under the
FSU umbrella), and the institution’s mission is to educate and
not to compete in the private sector, CATC could not sell the
technology it is implementing."

As a result, FSU agreed to place the CATC platform in the
private sector under the wings of CyberMark and the Smart Card
Technology Alliance. Now positioned in the market to provide this
smart card platform to universities and corporate campuses, the
company is expanding services on the card as quickly as possible.

On the FSU campus this year, ID cards will have electronic
purses to store money slated for particular purposes such as long
distance, vending, dining services and local merchants.

They will also provide secured Internet services, as ID cards
will act as token-based authentication tools. Each issued card is
encrypted with a code that enables secure access over open
networks. Each personal computer must be equipped with a reader
that connects to the PC parallel port enabling the code to
authenticate a user, allowing World Wide Web access. If FSU wants
to post a transcript, a student can go to a particular Web page
using the encrypted codes to send and receive data. This
technology, provided by V-ONE Corp., works with Netscape,
Microsoft Explorer or any Web browser.

A future arm to this already expansive platform is growing
between CyberMark and Nortel. The companies are combining their
efforts to provide revaluing services for ID cards by means of
Nortel’s Millennium payphone, a smart card and magnetic
stripe-accepting payphone. As a convenient revaluing option, the
payphone will act as an automatic teller for students who want to
move money from a bank account to electronic purses. If
cardholders do not have options for placing money back on the
card, usage would decrease, defeating the purpose of the system.
All based on an off-line system, this platform is supposed to be
cheaper than on-line systems, yet it offers a near real-time
solution. Since on- line systems require the expense of laying
cable for a network, campuses such as FSU, with satellite
institutions, cannot afford the on-line price tag.

In this off-line solution, card readers can be downloaded and
uploaded daily for information transfers. Although it is not
capable of real-time attendance, the system can still provide
"hot lists" for cards that need to be canceled, and
software can be updated at any time. This is accomplished with a
paddle-like smart card that is put in each reader every day for
information transfers.

However, Paula Wright, manager of marketing and customer care
at AT&T’s CampusWide Access Solutions, says the information
should be immediately accessible. "AT&T believes in an
on-line system because there is all this reporting capability
with a transaction-based real-time system that you can’t get with
an off-line system."

The FSU student ID card is more than identification. It
provides long distance carrier services, bank account access,
building security, electronic purses, debit card capabilities,
administrative messaging, financial aid distribution, report card
access and secured Internet access. This may seem exhaustive for
one piece of plastic and a slip of metal, but Corum believes this
platform will expand exponentially in the near future.


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