NFC Credentials vs Barcode & Bluetooth Credentials

August 26, 2022

Campus ID

Many universities are beginning to phase out older physical Campus ID credentials, such as barcode and magstripe in favor of contactless Near Field Communication (NFC) credential technology. 

NFC credentials can come in a digital mobile credential or a physical card. Both NFC-based credentials offer a higher level of security as compared to a barcode credentials solution. In the case of NFC-based mobile credential, the solution offers even more benefits, including the ability for the mobile credential to be safely secured in the wallet on the user's phone, enabling the user to mark their credential as lost and if found the mobile credential can be immediately put back into an active state within seconds.

These reasons have spiked interest in mobile credentials on college campuses. In fact, in a survey of 115 university decision-makers, 70% said they are already using mobile credentials or plan to use them in the next five years.

However, if you’re one of the 30% of administrators who haven’t looked into mobile credentials, now is the time. 

This article will cover the key differences between NFC credentials as well as how Transact measures up to competitors in the industry. We’ll also see what students have to say about implementing mobile credentials on their campus.

Key Differences Between NFC Credentials vs Barcode Credentials

The differences between NFC-based mobile credential and a barcode credential play a large role in the shift from physical cards to virtual cards. Let’s take a closer look at how these differences apply in a campus setting. 

Access Control and Stored Value Accounts

Access control and stored value accounts become much easier with NFC credentials. To use both functions, it’s as simple as tapping an enabled device near a compatible reader. 

Once students tap their device, they can do everything from accessing buildings and events to paying for food, spirit wear, vending machine snacks, and more!

They are also able to check account balances and manage meal plans. 

As opposed to barcode credentials, mobile credentials provide an all-in-one central location for completing and managing access control and stored value accounts. 

Lifecycle and Security Management

Barcode credentials/plastic credentials lack the lifecycle management capabilities of NFC credentials/mobile credentials.

Unfortunately, plastic credentials can still be used after their intended lifecycle. Barcode credentials also give access around campus to anyone who has found or stolen a plastic credential, which can be a major security threat. 

However, with mobile credentials, administrators can quickly and easily suspend and enable functions which helps to prevent unintended use. 

More Cost-Effective and Efficient

Mobile credentials eliminate the costs associated with reprinting and issuing new or lost cards considering everything is found on the student's enabled device. 

As opposed to barcode credentials, mobile credentials can also be easily updated with new features - which include branding to match the universities goals.

What Sets Transact’s Mobile Credentials Apart?

There is a clear difference between NFC credentials and barcode credentials and most of these differences lean in favor of NFC credentials. However, not all mobile credentials are created equal. 

Near Field Communication (NFC) vs. Bluetooth

Some Companies Use Bluetooth

Many mobile credential platforms use Bluetooth connectivity to enable their functions. This means students have to be connected to Bluetooth to use their mobile credentials.

It’s not a bad route, however, it can be a hassle when a device disconnects and students are in a rush to get from place to place. 

Transact Uses NFC

Transact mobile credentials use NFC to enable their functions. This means once the function is enabled on the student's mobile device, they will never disconnect. 

There isn’t even a need to open the mobile device or app with NFC, students just have to tap on the reader and it will complete their task. 

Additionally, because it is heavily encrypted, NFC is more secure than Bluetooth.

One Platform vs. Multiple Platforms

Many of Transact's competitors use multiple platforms and different offerings for features. This means the tools you use to manage access control features may be different from the tools you use to manage stored value account features. 

However, Transact uses an all-in-one platform, meaning you can make changes and enhancements and manage all of your mobile credential features in one place. It’s an end-to-end solution to control an end-to-end experience that keeps the user in mind. 

Transacts Mobile Credentials Improve the User Experience

Students at Mercer University were thrilled when administrators implemented mobile credentials on their campus. 

One student said, “I think having mobile credential is a really great option especially since I can have it, not only on my phone but, on my Apple Watch as well.”

Another student said, “It’s super convenient if I have a lot in my hands like mail or food and I’m carrying it all around, so then I just tap my wrist and I go into my dorm or the building.” 

Ready to Implement Mobile Credentials on Your Campus?

As barcode credentials start to become a thing of the past, it’s important to weigh out your options for your mobile credential solution. 

Be sure to take into account the technology they use, the way their platforms are designed for management purposes, and the overall user experience. 

Transact offers mobile credential solutions that can be tailored to fit your university and its unique needs. We also make the student experience a top priority when designing and implementing features.

Contact us today to learn how Transact can help you create a connected campus experience!