Campus ID Solutions - In-Depth Guide to Transforming Higher Education

November 16, 2023

Campus ID

In today’s digital age, innovative mobile credential solutions that offer convenience, security, and a wide range of functionalities are replacing traditional plastic student IDs. Since college students use their cards often, ID cards can be lost, stolen, damaged, or worn out.

For the past 30 years, physical student IDs were the only game in town—they worked and served their purpose; however, there’s an easier, more secure way to do things now. Technology stores data on a smartphone or watch, so plastic IDs are no longer necessary. We hope you’ll find this mini “how-to guide” to campus ID solutions useful. Keep reading to learn more about: 

  • Various options for student ID credentials 
  • NFC technology and the genesis of Transact Mobile Credential 
  • Benefits of contactless student IDs versus plastic IDs 
  • How Campus ID solutions are helping administrators and enhancing student campus life 
  • Helpful resources and case studies 

This information should prove helpful when you’re evaluating your school’s current student ID needs and challenges, so you can make the best decision going forward.

Exploring the different types of Campus ID solutions 

Historically, campus ID solutions included proximity cards, barcodes, RFID cards, and biometric technology. Schools chose the right type of technology for their unique needs and weighed the pros and cons of various factors: 

  • Ease of use 
  • Security 
  • Compliance 
  • Cost 
  • Technology support
  • Versatility 

Here’s a brief overview of how each type of technology works: 

Proximity Cards 

A proximity card is a contactless card that readers scan and read without inserting into a card reader. Proximity cards feature an embedded metallic antenna coil inside which holds the encoded data and use a low 125 kHz radio frequency to transmit to devices such as a door access reader.

When the card is placed on the reader, the card’s unique strand of numbers is passed to the access control panel, which verifies if the number matches an approved number in the internal database. If the card number is approved, the door will be unlocked. 


To use a barcode on an ID card, you first scan the barcode with a barcode reader. The reader feeds the data into a computer system, which retrieves the information associated with that code. The barcode doesn’t contain a lot of information, it simply points to the data in the database software.

Scanning barcodes individually is very labor-intensive. Also, they don’t have a high level of security, as they can be more easily reproduced or forged. 

RFID Cards 

Radio Frequency ID (RFID) cards have radio frequency identification technology. RFID cards communicate with a payment terminal using a radio frequency instead of a magnetic strip. RFID technology allows you to simply tap or wave your credit card near a card reader. 

Biometric Technology

Biometric Technology enables the identification and authentication of a person based on recognizable, verifiable, unique, and specific data. When a card with biometric technology is used, the data stored is checked against the person's biometric data. Even though hackers can’t s predict or break biometrics like they can passwords, they still have the potential to breach them. Experts recommended using two-factor authentication for an added layer of security. 

Give students what they want: Simpler, more secure Mobile Credential 

We researched internal and client data and found that students wanted and expected mobile campus ID solutions. Our technology pioneers answered their call by developing Transact Mobile Credential, a secure, mobile-centric campus ID system. This intuitive, more intelligent student ID solution improves the campus experience for students and staff while prioritizing safety and efficiency. It fits with modern technology trends and provides a solid foundation for future developments in campus security and access management.

Today’s contactless student ID card—backed by NFC technology 

Mobile Credential is a digital student ID that can do everything a physical ID can do and more, thanks to NFC technology. NFC, short for near-field communication, allows devices like phones and smart watches to exchange small bits of data with other devices and read NFC-equipped cards over relatively short distances.

Mobile Credential uses secure NFC technology and is the only product on the market that integrates with Apple, Samsung, and Google Wallets. It also works with Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch. This technology enables secure transactions by directly reading the mobile device using a contactless method. 

It’s easy for students to use Mobile Credential

  • Students merely tap their device on a card reader to access resident halls, buildings, and events, pay for food, spirit wear, vending machine snacks, and more! 
  •  They can also check account balances and manage meal plans.  

Mobile Credential provides an all-in-one central location for completing and managing access control and stored value accounts. 

More like this:

Early adopters helped pave the way for Mobile Credential 

“At Transact, we’re very passionate about innovation and pioneering a new landscape. Bringing digital mobile credential into student ID is something that started over 15 years ago. We saw the vision for how NFC could be a game-changer for student ID, and started building that technology into our devices, finding the right partners to work with, and working with some of the biggest companies on the planet to integrate student ID into Wallet,” said Rasheed Behrooznia, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Campus ID Solutions at Transact. Mobile Credential was launched in 2018 after it had been rigorously tested by three schools eager to give it a try: 

  1. Duke University 
  2. The University of Alabama 
  3. The University of Oklahoma 

“Transact has been such a valuable partner to provide such an incredible mobile solution. These are quicker transactions; they’re secure transactions; and they're convenient transactions,” said Jeanine Brooks, Action Card Office Director at University of Alabama. 

“These early adopters didn’t know how this would all play out and went on that journey with us,” Behrooznia said.

Learn more here about the first three schools that tested Mobile Credential, and how it was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. 

More like this: Campus ID Case Studies 

Campus ID solutions are transforming higher education 

Campus ID solutions have transformed how college or university campuses operate and students do business. Let’s look at some of the exciting campus-wide features of Mobile Credential: 

Mobile Credential Features 

  • Access Control Systems: Effortlessly unlock doors and manage access to various campus facilities using Transact Mobile Credential. This includes dorms, classrooms, libraries, and other secure areas. 
  • Event Management: Streamline event access by integrating the Campus ID system with your event ticketing or registration platforms. This ensures a cohesive, unified experience for students attending campus events. 
  • Campus Commerce Integration: Enable students to use their IDs for cashless transactions across the campus, including dining facilities, bookstores, and other campus services. 
  • Emergency Hotline Capabilities: Mobile Credential now features emergency hotline capabilities, so your school can send updates like emergency notifications, to students’ mobile IDs with a quick system update.
  • Talkiatry: Gives students instant access to mental health services and support. 
  • Real-Time Data and Reporting: Campus ID solutions provide centralized, real-time data on ID usage, allowing efficient monitoring of campus activities. This includes tracking entry and exit times, transaction history, and event attendance. 

Campus ID Benefits  

In addition to these features, Campus ID solutions offer valuable benefits to administrators and students: 

  • Enhanced Campus Safety and Security: The system provides a robust authentication mechanism, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized access, theft, or ID duplication. 
  • Convenience and Efficiency: Students can perform various tasks using one single ID, streamlining their experience on campus, and reducing the need for multiple cards or credentials. 
  • Contactless Transactions: Minimize physical contact by utilizing contactless technology for authentication, reducing the risk of spreading germs or pathogens. 
  • Cashless Payment Options: By facilitating cashless campus payments, students can enjoy a more convenient and secure way to make campus-wide transactions. 
  • Remote Management: Administrators have the power to remotely control access to buildings, ensuring the safety of students and staff in emergency situations. 
  • Automated Processes: Campus ID solutions can help reduce administrative costs by automating many processes. 
  • Comprehensive Monitoring: Real-time data and reporting allow for better visibility into campus activities, enabling proactive responses to any security or operational issues. 
  • Adaptability and Futureproofing: The system is designed to accommodate emerging technologies and evolving campus needs, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness in the long-term. 
  • Improved Student Engagement and Satisfaction: Mobile Credential helps to improve student engagement and satisfaction, providing an easy way for students to access and manage their own information. 

Beyond ID: Mobile Credential connects students with mental health services 

According to a national survey, almost three-quarters of students reported moderate or severe psychological distress (National College Health Assessment, American College Health Association, 2021). Making mental health services more accessible is a top priority at Transact. We partnered with Talkiatry, one of the nation’s largest mental health practices offering in-network, virtual care. Access to Talkiatry's services will be incorporated into the Transact eAccounts app and be made available within the Transact Mobile Credential at participating campus. Once enabled, students can connect with: 

  • Talkiatry’s team of 300+ psychiatrists specialize in treating mental health issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and more.   
  • Convenient virtual visits that accommodate students’ schedules. 

In addition to connecting students to Talkiatry, Mobile Credential also provides instant access to free and confidential emotional support through the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ready to explore a better student ID system? 

Our solution is so well-received and popular among school administrators and students, we recently surpassed one million Mobile Credential provisions. In fact, Transact Mobile Credential represents more than 80% of the market of mobile Student IDs on client campuses.

If you’re ready to explore the possibilities of Mobile Credential and learn how it can revolutionize your campus, reach out to a Transact representative to take the next step.