New Phoenix Cards feature contactless technology

Undergraduate students are being issued new Phoenix Cards this week, to be followed soon after by graduate students and Elon employees.

This example of a new Phoenix Card shows few aesthetic changes from the previous generation, but contains a host of technological upgrades.
Upgraded Phoenix Cards featuring contactless or “tap” technology are being distributed to Elon University students, faculty and staff over the course of the next several weeks. The new cards, which feature smart card chip technology, will eventually eliminate the need for cardholders to swipe them at campus facilities as new card readers are installed over the next several years. Instead, the cards can be recognized by card readers from between three and six inches away.

Incoming students received the new smart cards during orientation, while thousands of other undergraduate students have picked theirs up this week. Sophomores, juniors and seniors who haven’t yet turned in their old Phoenix Cards and collected a new one should do so Friday, Sept. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Moseley Center just outside the mail center. Graduate students and university employees will receive emails in the coming weeks with instructions on how to claim their new cards. Everyone must turn in their old Phoenix Card to receive a new one.

New cardreaders have already been installed in the mail center, a step that has dramatically reduced wait times, according to Assistant Vice President for Administrative Services Chris Fulkerson. 

Over time, the new cardreaders will make entering dining halls, getting into buildings and checking out media from Belk Library faster and easier. The cards’ encrypted chips can also securely store a significant amount of data, Fulkerson says, so additional uses for the technology such as storing academic or medical records are being considered.

Elon was an early adopter to the previous generation of Phoenix Card technology, so Fulkerson says adminstrators waited until it was financially responsible to begin the upgrade process to the smart cards.

“It was time to start replacing some of the infrastructure,” he said. “So rather than invest more in the old infrastructure, we started making this switch.”

The updates to Phoenix Cards will not impact how merchants in the surrounding community use the cards.