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Slippery Rock Adds RFID to Student Cell Phones

The Pennsylvania university is giving out passive 13.56 MHz RFID tags to attach to mobile phones, allowing attendees to pay for a range of goods and services, both on campus and off.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 06, 2007Starting in August, Slippery Rock University's 8,500 students and faculty members will each receive a passive 13.56 MHz RFID tag they can attach to their cell phones. This tag will allow them to pay for everything from laundry and copier services to movies and groceries in the surrounding town of Slippery Rock, located about 50 minutes north of Pittsburgh.

Payment card solutions company Heartland Payment Systems is providing the RFID system, which uses near-field communication (NFC) technology and complies with the ISO 14443 standard.

Robert Smith
Slippery Rock students can currently make purchases by means of photo ID cards, which contain a magnetic stripe encoded with each user's ID number. The students already use their ID cards to pay for goods and services at the school. Upon enrolling at the university, students open a Rock Dollar FDIC-insured bank account, in which they (or their parents) can deposit spending money. The ID card's mag-stripe can be swiped at point-of-sale terminals or vending machines, with the money automatically deducted from the Rock Dollar account.

Students can go online at any time to track their spending and, if they so desire, allow their parents the same access. Their parents can then see where the money is being spent, and add money to the account.

The school is adopting the RFID system to enable students to spend money even if they leave their wallet and ID card at home. "We wanted to provide additional services to our students," says Robert Smith, president of Slippery Rock University, "and we've always taken a certain pride in the fact that we are technologically sophisticated on our campus." Prior to the deployment of the system, Smith spoke with Heartland' manager of IT, Barry Welsch, regarding a contactless payment solution. Welsch suggested one based on near-field communication.

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