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By Edina A.T. Strum
Arizona Summer Wildcat
June 11, 1997

Bank offers debit feature on new student ID card

One card that does it all. That is how the University of Arizona is billing its new digital identification card set to debut in August.

The new "CatCard" will serve all the functions of the old ID cards - access to testing, student records, the Student Recreation Center, and cash on the All Aboard and Pocket Money debit systems.

But the new card goes a step further.

In a cooperative effort with Saguaro Credit Union, the new ID cards will work like cash at all Tucson merchants equipped to process debit transactions on the Explore network, said SaRena Keneston, spokeswoman for Saguaro Credit Union.

Previously, students could only use their All Aboard and Pocket Money accounts at on-campus vendors such as the Memorial and Park Student Union restaurants, Fast Copy, Gallagher Theatre and Centennial Hall.

However, the new cards will have two magnetic strips, one to encode the All Aboard and Pocket Money funds and one for a Saguaro debit account.

If students do not want the Saguaro debit feature, the second magnetic strip will remain blank.

"This card is designed for students coming here who want off-campus cash and only want to carry one card," Keneston said.

She said for security reasons the cards will not work like a Visa debit card, which only requires a signature to process a transaction.

"With a lot of people living in dorms it would increase the risk of fraud."

Instead, a four-digit Personal Identification Number must be entered for all Saguaro debit transactions.

The PIN requirement initially may limit the number of merchants who will accept the card because many are not already equipped with a "PIN pad," Keneston said.

The university began searching for a one-card system after administrators counted 19 different ID cards being used on campus, said Richard Crow, manager of the One Card office.

He said by last November a Request for Proposals was sent out to banking institutions to integrate the ID system, offer the banking services and provide the administrative support.

After three revisions to the proposal, Saguaro was the only institution still seeking the contract, Keneston said.

The one card system is not unique to the UA, Crow said. Other universities including Stanford and the University of Michigan began using similar systems in the 1980s. Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University have also switched over to a on e card system.

Crow said that part of the secret to making the card a success at the UA will be marketing the idea to the area businesses and to students - who may find the idea of shopping with their student ID card a bit odd.

So far, students think the idea sounds good, but have raised some concerns.

"I think it's a good idea. . But then again I've lost my ID card so many times and this will make it more valuable," said Ron McCullough, a chemistry junior.

Natalie Swanson, a chemistry junior who just transferred to the UA said, "I think it sounds perfect."

The UA plans to eventually extend this same service to all staff and faculty, connected to their ID cards, Crow said. However, a date for that expansion has not been set.

In order to better support the new system, Saguaro Credit Union will be opening two new branches - one in the Student Union next to the Card Office and one at 988 E. University Blvd.

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