The freedom to choose

How campus cards are changing the game at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh wanted to provide more payment options to patrons of its campus vending machines. The single card readers it had installed did not support both traditional debit/credit cards and campus ID cards as a form of payment. It could have installed two separate readers at each location, but that would have been costly, unattractive and would have put a heavy burden on its telecommunication networks. The university needed a single solution that could recognize multiple payment forms and would expand its level of service to students, faculty, staff, and the public.

That is why early 2015 was the opportune time for such a change. The university was due to re-sign its vending contracts, and this provided the perfect opportunity to evaluate and embrace the latest developments in vending technology. It researched many solutions, and discovered that by working with CBORD, an industry leader in campus and cashless card systems, and Apriva, a leading provider of secure end-to-end wireless and transaction and information solutions, the university could rollout single-card readers across campus. The card readers would be able to accept all major payment forms, including both debit/credit, NFC and campus ID card payments. The university would now be able to offer its customers the freedom to choose whatever payment method they preferred.

Once they had settled on working with Apriva and CBORD, university officials were amazed at how easily and quickly they were able to implement the new technology. The new readers were installed and working within a month. A quick rollout was especially important to the university, as the semester was quickly ending and they were eager to test the new equipment before the calendar school year ended.   

The results of the new hardware were, and continue to be, extremely positive. The university has not only been able to provide increased benefits to their customers, but has also reduced their capital expenses by limiting infrastructure modifications and networking costs. Additionally, they have increased their revenue by being able to serve a greater range of consumers at more locations throughout the campus. While it is too soon to cite numbers from a complete yearly cycle, the university conservatively expects to see a year-over-year increase in profits from snack vending machines alone to reach three to five percent and expects an even higher increase when they expand the program to their beverage machines.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is continuously committed to better serving the needs of both students and visitors of our campus.  Apriva and CBORD provided the best solution to not only meet those needs, but deliver an impressive return on investment. What initially started out as a functionality test, became a blazingly-fast rollout of a new technology that will continue to expand our ability to cater to all our guests and increase our vending sales across our campus.

The new card readers were also put to the test over the summer, during Oshkosh’s substantive annual event, EAA AirVenture. During this week-long event in late July, approximately 550,000 people arrived to learn more about the history of aviation, watch aerobatics and participate in hands-on workshops. With such a vast increase in potential customers during this important event, it was critical that the campus, an important hospitality location during the event, be able to accept as many forms of payments as possible. The event went on without a hitch, and the university saw a marked increase in summer revenue from their vending machines across all payment methods.

Through implementation of the dual-purpose card readers, the University of Oshkosh has been able to better serve their students, faculty, and visiting guests, while at the same time increasing their revenue from their vending locations throughout the campus. That’s why when it comes to payment options, giving customers the freedom to choose is always the right solution.

Come learn more at the 2015 NACAS Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, during our session on Cultivating the Cashless Future of Campus Payments.


Matt Suwalski, CASP
Matt Suwalski, CASP, is assistant director for business & retail at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

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