We often talk of a ‘cashless campus’ but what does it really look like? ‘Cashless’, although a commonly used term, is actually a misnomer. It is unlikely that campuses will go entirely cashless in the near future, but they will be heading towards using ‘less cash’
Under a fully integrated cashless system, a single common payment mechanism provides access to goods and services right across the campus (and even beyond), incorporating products and services such as the learning environment, library, common amenities, catering, security, shops (on campus and on-line), on and off campus transport, and much more . At the time of payment the purchaser must prove their identity.
In Simple terms, a cashless system involves:
• An account for each user. After logging in, they can see their transactions and balances, and can perform account and card management functions.
• A payment mechanism for users, linked to their account. This could be via the chip in a smartcard (which could even be the institution’s existing student card; smartcards can invariably already support an e-payment system). Beyond cards, payment mechanisms will increasingly include mobile phones or even a smart watches, key fobs or bracelets. The mechanism is issued/made available to students and staff, with temporary access provided to visitors, delegates, contractors and others.
• A mechanism for verifying the user’s identity at each transaction. This is done with
proximity/smartcards carrying a digital key, or ‘ID tokens’ via mobile phones for contactless methods (smartphones), or with biometrics.
• Payment terminals for debiting user accounts. These could be at each required point of sale – anything from a restaurant till to a vending machine, a library printer, a laundromat washing machine, on-line consumables shops, and much more.
• The ability to add funds to the account. Funds can be added either by the card holder or third parties such as parents or the institution (for example, when paying out bursaries). This can be done on-line, for example via PayPal, debit/credit card, bank transfer or standing order, or in person using kiosks around the campus (which will accept cash), just as Oyster cards can be topped up at London Underground stations.
• A transaction engine (a powerful relational database) which will manage the entire process.
Keep your students happy
Students benefit from one fast, easy system that can access a wide range of goods and services, on or even off campus/site. They have no need to go looking for functioning ATMs to access funds. These can be distant, expensive and a security risk (especially at night). Nor do they need to worry about holding cash or how much is held; there’s no need to weigh up which method to use when paying.
Funds can be loaded to their account quickly and conveniently — at kiosks on campus, or on-line by students and/or parents. They also have greater control over their finances as there’s no need to withdraw more cash than is immediately needed and transaction histories are viewable on-line; it’s easier to avoid overdrafts!
Faster transactions avoid wasting time in queues and arriving late for lectures and they also have less to carry around (no need for wallets to be bulked out with cards, heavy coins, etc.). And if their card is lost or stolen it’s quick and easy to block smartcards and immediately set up an alternative payment system (and to unblock cards again)
And the organisation benefits too.
You’ll enjoy simpler administration because one system can do it all. Less cash needs collecting, reconciling and storing. The risk of robbery, theft and fraud diminishes, and operating costs are significantly reduced. As the system uses a closed loop, spend is kept on campus and may boost revenue by up to 20%. A closed loop system will cut the cost of transaction (reduce merchant services) and as funds are held by the organisation cash flow and interest earned improve.
As students no longer need to rely on cash, the payment of library fines, sports membership and other goods and services is quicker.
By integrating the student’s cashless card with other systems the use of the card is extended and your investment in other solutions is protected.
The canteen is a more productive place with quicker transaction times, students no longer need to deal with finding the correct change. The Monitor Retail module also allows students or parents to set allergy notification and providers of education to 16 – 19 year olds find it easier to achieve compliance with free meal provision for eligible students.
Departmental funds can be ring-fenced and codes can be assigned to particular types of spend, with budgets controlled within overall limits or limits per code. Staff can also minimise their involvement in high-volume, low-cost transactions, giving them more time to concentrate on other, more important duties.
We hope the benefits of a cashless campus are easy to see, of course the great thing is you don’t have to do it all at one. You can install one module at a time.
Find out more about MonitorIT’s cashless solutions by visiting the Cashless Solution section of our website – click here. Or if you would prefer to speak to one of our team call us on 01494 565066. They will be happy to answer any questions you have about a how you can use less cash.