Blackboard Tests NFC Phone-based Payments at Two Campuses (Nov. 5, 2013)
Could college campuses serve as labs for U.S. NFC payment adoption? The answer may depend on the results of pilots launched last month at two midsize universities. Blackboard Inc. in mid-October began pilots of NFC-based mobile payments at Tulane University in New Orleans and Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., enabling students to use Android handsets to make payments at hundreds of contactless POS locations around the two campuses, a Blackboard spokesperson confirms. Washington, D.C.-based Blackboard is a 2013 Paybefore Award winner for its Blackboard Transact prepaid campus card, supported by First Data’s Money Network and Discover Network, which integrates with college student ID cards, so it can function as a closed-loop prepaid card for campus purchases and activities, including door access, while enabling purchases anywhere Discover is accepted.
Working with an undisclosed mobile carrier, Blackboard Transact has set up the pilots to connect Samsung Galaxy S3 handsets to students’ campus card accounts. Participants in the pilot visit the campus card office to receive a specially adapted NFC SIM card for their phones, which works with the installed base of campus contactless applications, including various POS locations, laundry and vending machines and access to doors and facilities. To provision the phone, participants activate the service with a call to the mobile provider, log on to the Blackboard Transact system via a mobile app and account credentials are added to the phone’s SIM card over the air. The pilot will run through May with about 100 students participating on each campus. Blackboard may expand the pilot to other schools during this phase, the spokesperson tells Paybefore.
Blackboard Transact has broad reach to thousands of students and hundreds of contactless card readers installed on more than 150 U.S. campuses. The company also has extended its payments footprint off campus, with more than 1,500 merchants nationwide participating in Blackboard’s university-approved merchant network.
Blackboard isn’t the only one targeting campuses for mobile payments. LoopPay Inc. and Campus Nation Network announced last week that they’re creating Campus Loop, a student-focused digital wallet based on the LoopPay platform, which will enable users to store payment, gift and campus ID cards, as well as manage student dining and loyalty programs from a smartphone app.