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Montreal Students Use NFC to Go Cashless at School Events

HEC Montreal's student association has adopted a system from Connect&Go that enables students to create a prepaid account and then make deductions with an NFC-enabled ID card, thereby eliminating the time-consuming process of paying with cash or credit cards.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 23, 2019

Business college HEC Montreal's student association, L'Association Étudiante des Hautes Études Commerciales (AEHEC), has improved its school event processes with an RFID-based solution that enables it to eliminate cash payments. With the RFID-based system, first deployed three years ago and upgraded this year, students can access events via their smartphones and make payments onsite using an RFID card. The Connect&GO Near Field Communication (NFC) solution has made entry faster and food and beverage queues shorter, while there is no need for anyone to manage cash for the student association, says Ian Perreault, AEHEC's secretary and treasurer.

AEHEC hosts dozens of events throughout each school year, including parties, concerts and movies. The organization serves more than 4,300 students. Traditionally, individuals had to pay for events and concessions with cash, but three years ago the college moved to a cashless system that required individuals to purchase and then scan a services card upon arriving at an event. That process was still time-consuming and allowed for errors, however, so the school began working with Connect&GO to create a better solution. The system was taken live at the beginning of the fall semester.

HEC Montreal
Connect&GO is a Montreal-based RFID company that specializes in ticketing, access control, cashless payments and experiential activations. It acquired ticketing solutions firm Dator earlier this year and is now providing full solutions that can include everything from ticket sales to access and payment onsite. Most recently, says Anthony Palermo, Connect&GO's co-founder, the company has been demonstrating how a holistic solution can be used for repeat events on a small scale, by offering the technology to universities as well.

"University opportunity is very different from everything else we've done," Palermo explains. Unlike a commercial site with a daily flow of customers, a college school year includes periodic events, with recurring attendees all using a payment system at a small scale. The most recent event held at HE Montreal attracted approximately 1,500 attendees, he reports. With the new system, onsite payments for concessions are accomplished via the NFC-enabled card, while access for ticket-holders can be granted via guests' cell phones.

At the beginning of the school year, each student receives a services card for use at any of the approximately 30 events throughout the year. The card comes with a built-in NXP NFC chip with a unique ID number encoded on it, which is linked to the individual's identity and cash account on a cloud-based server accessible via the HEC app. A student can set up the card by transferring funds from his or her bank account or credit cart to the prepaid virtual wallet account linked to that card. He or she can then use the site to add to the account balance, as well as add medical information and emergency contacts.

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