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By Mary Fan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 5, 1998

New CatCard - eventually - will offer expanded capabilities

Every student, faculty member and staff member at the UA will soon have upgraded identification cards that contain a computer chip - complete with an upgraded price, a CatCard Office representative told the Associated Students Senate last night.

"The new card is very expensive - it's like carrying around a small computer," said Chris Farley, a CatCard representative.

The new card will contain a microchip that will enable it to be used as a debit card. Farley said that eventually, any merchant will be able to purchase equipment that reads the chip.

The CatCard Office will hold a re-carding drive at the Campus Recreation Center from March 2 to 23. Anyone who gets the new card then will get it for free, Farley said.

But with the expanded capabilities comes added cost - lost cards could cost $25 to replace, compared to the $5 replacement fee for current cards.

Not only are the cards more expensive to replace, they are more expensive to lose.

Students must be more careful with the cards, Farley said, because the microchips will store students' account balances. Losing a card will mean losing the entire balance, Farley said.

"This is going to be like your wallet, and you had better hold on to it," she said.

The estimated 50,000 students and faculty who will update their cards in March must still use their old cards until after spring break. That's when the university's computer systems will change to recognize the new card, Farley said.

A mid-semester switch also will allow students to adjust to the changes without simultaneously dealing with beginning-semester stress, said Liz Taylor, a CatCard Office representative.

The switch is costing the CatCard Office about $1 million, Farley said.

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