Campus Mobile Credentials: Improving the Student Experience

Meeting changing expectations with mobile capabilities

Today’s students expect their campus experience to be mobile-friendly. To meet that demand, institutions are offering a mobile credential option for campus ID and access cards, enabling students to use their smartphones or smartwatches to access meals and facilities, attend events, or make purchases—all in a highly secure, easy-to-use platform that the institution manages.

In this web seminar, the director of card services at Arkansas State University and an expert from Transact discussed strategies and best practices for implementing mobile credentials at any campus.


Dan Gretz
Senior Director, Business Development
Transact Campus

Sheryl Puckett
Director of Card Services
Arkansas State University

Dan Gretz: The story for mobile credentials starts with the rising expectations that students have for universities to deliver service in a better, more efficient and impactful way. We might call that a trend, but it’s certainly not a trend that we see going away anytime soon.

We talk a lot about reducing friction in the campus space, and Transact Mobile Credential is front and center in that effort. I view it as sitting at the crossroads of enhancing service delivery to students while also helping schools operate more efficiently.

Most students don’t care how they’re identified for a transaction so long as it isn’t a hindrance to paying for what they’re purchasing. They simply want to get to that desired activity as soon as possible, which makes our collective tasking much more about facilitating access or payment versus identifying the user or the student. So as the administrator, certainly security is paramount, and Transact Mobile Credential delivers that in a secure, seamless and frictionless solution.

Schools have made investments over the years in rolling out contactless and near-field communication (NFC) technology, and more recently, they have been truly creating environments where the student experience is one of wholesale familiarity and ubiquitous use across campus.

“Most students don’t care how they’re identified for a transaction so long as it isn’t a hindrance to paying for what they’re purchasing. They simply want to get to that desired activity as soon as possible.”

For the schools that have rolled out Transact Mobile Credential, the students don’t have to think about whether they need to swipe their card or tap their phone. Schools can be confident that we’ve set the standard for this kind of cross-campus acceptance of the mobile credential. While the card has not gone away, students crave a solution that is on the mobile device they have with them—24/7 in some cases.

Our heritage in NFC goes back to 2010 when we first started shipping devices that had that capability built-in. Our story with mobile credentials goes back to 2013. The latest evolution came in June 2018 with the announcement that the Apple Wallet app would be supporting the Transact Campus ID. We were the first campus credential provider to make that statement and partner with Apple and to enable that capability.

Sheryl Puckett: We started preparing for mobile credentials several years ago, using contactless cards with the FeliCa chip shortly after they were introduced by Transact. Now, with the installation of the Allegion NDE locks on doors, we’ve replaced the FeliCa cards so that we can use the contactless cards on those door readers.

We introduced multifactor authentication over a year before we decided to move forward with the mobile credential. We had a push across campus for increased door access, which resulted in a plan for each of our buildings to have at least one exterior door equipped with a reader.

Faculty and staff had already expressed interest in improved technology and asked if they could have their IDs on their phones. So when the news was released that other universities were implementing mobile credentials for the Apple Wallet, our interest increased dramatically.

There are several different things to keep in mind when you’re going forward with a mobile credential. Having support is a vital component for success. Know your stakeholders, understand them and communicate with them. Make others aware of what the card center can do. Look at the hardware that you want to deploy across campus, and compare options. Develop a realistic timeline; this is going to take several months. Develop a marketing strategy, and put that information out there so that the students, faculty, staff and the community know what’s going on.

Things may go wrong along the way. You’re going to have bumps in the road, but don’t let them become huge potholes and don’t let them stop you. It’s not going to be perfect, but you’re going to learn a lot of lessons along the way, and it’s going to be worth it.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit