Students walking through campus hallway

Your Students Are Mobile. Your RFID Readers Need to Be, Too.

The Case for Mobile-Enabled RFID Readers

Smartphones are already at the center of campus life, facilitating social connections and the exchange of information and resources. At colleges and universities across the country, they are increasingly being used for other crucial campus services from contactless payments and ticketing to physical access control.

These services are powered by mobile wallets like Apple Wallet — applications that enable users to encrypt and store personal and financial data in their smartphones — and by RFID readers that support the use of mobile credentials.

Here’s a brief overview of what’s happening and what your campus can do to prepare.

Mobile Wallet Use Is Rising

The pandemic shone a spotlight on contactless payments, and nowhere is the trend clearer than among young people. According to a February 2021 report from fintech company FIS, the percentage of young Millennials who used contactless payments tripled in the last ten months. The same study found that 57% of Gen Zers use a mobile wallet (up from 50% in 2020) and 65% of young Millennials use a mobile wallet (up from 59% in 2020).

What’s more, 32% of mobile wallet users report having three or more wallets, while a handful of young Millennials say they have as many as nine different wallets!

But mobile wallets do far more than facilitate payments. Everything that can be stored in a physical wallet can be stored in a mobile wallet, from IDs to tickets and key cards. Mobile wallets thus offer a secure, one-stop credential for accessing university services. Rather than digging out campus cards, students can use a device that’s often already in their hands to:

  • Enter buildings and dorm rooms
  • Check out a library book
  • Pay for a meal
  • Print a document
  • Access recreational facilities

Universities need to be ready to accommodate the demand for these services. In fact, in a pilot project at Arizona State University, 85% of participating students said they’d been approached by others while using their smartphones to unlock a door — and asked where to get the technology.

Fortunately, mobile wallets offer clear benefits to administrators, as well.

Security Is Simpler on Mobile

Producing, provisioning and distributing physical cards requires a huge amount of effort, especially during the back-to-school crunch. Going mobile, by contrast, streamlines credential management with secure, centralized over-the-air provisioning and updates. Applications and security parameters can be modified via software downloads and firmware updates, eliminating the risk of card copying and simplifying the task of ongoing lifecycle management.

Mobile credentials also strengthen security thanks to the multi-factor authentication that’s built into the device itself. And students are far less likely to lose their phones or smart watches — or lend them to a friend.

Schools that select interoperable credential standards are especially well positioned for the future, since they can manage credentials that are independent of smartphone operating systems and more easily adapt to evolving technologies.

RFID Goes Mobile

The task of launching a full suite of mobile credentials and services can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the most important task facing most administrators is to make sure that campus RFID readers — wall-mounted, desktop or embedded — are mobile ready, like HID Global’s suite of readers. This gives colleges maximum flexibility as they research campus needs and explore the options that best support them, while setting them up to serve growing student demand for mobile solutions.

Want to learn more about mobile wallets?  Download our executive brief, which brings the security and convenience of contactless ID badges into Apple Wallet.