For the last few weeks, Naomi Abrahams' life has been just a little bit easier than that of her fellow Temple University students.
Every time the 20-year-old senior walked into her residence hall or bought a coffee or went to the on-campus gym, she swiped her phone on a contactless pad similar to the way SEPTA’s new payment system works. Instead of pulling out her student ID card, she just tapped her iPhone 8-Plus and went on her way.
“I see everyone fumbling with their ID cards,” said Abrahams, of Irvington, N.J., who was selected by Temple to pilot the new technology. “I’m like, ‘Just wait guys. Your life is about to get a whole lot easier.’”
Beginning Monday, all Temple students will be able to use their “OwlCard” on their phone by downloading an app available through Blackboard, an educational-technology company Temple partnered with. The student or employee will then be able to sync the ID with Apple Wallet or Google Pay and swipe in anywhere with a phone or Apple Watch, without opening the app.
Just three other schools in the country have adopted the technology so far: Duke University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Oklahoma began their programs as partnerships with Apple last fall. In addition to Temple, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Santa Clara University in California are also unveiling partnerships with Apple this semester.
Temple officials say “OwlCard Mobile” will also be available for Android users beginning Monday, and Temple is the only school that will have both Apple- and Android-compatible programs at launch.
Besides the ease of using a phone instead of carrying an ID card, Temple officials say, the measure is good for security. Fewer students losing their ID cards means fewer people picking up a card on the ground that has “Diamond Dollars” — money for food and other necessities — and access to residence halls programmed into it.
Temple spokesman Christopher Vito said regular ID cards will still work, so students without phones or those who would prefer not to sync their ID card with their device will still have the same access to campus buildings and services.
Students can also use the app, called eAccounts Mobile, to check balances and add money to their various accounts, including for dining, laundry and printing. Security and privacy works in the same way it does for debit and credit cards used with Apple Wallet and Google Pay — the system relies on two-factor authentication.