Students trial NatWest smart card

Students at two campus universities are to test a new NatWest smart card with functions ranging from a cashcard to a club membership card.

The multi-application smart card, which has a computer chip in place of a magnetic strip that can store vast quantities of information, will replace the old student union membership card at Nottingham and Exeter universities from this September.

These sophisticated student ID cards, which will carry the holder’s photograph, will give access to campus buildings, can be used as a library card and carry membership details for university clubs and associations.

They will also offer Mondex, the system which enables the card to be loaded electronically with cash and used at participating shops. NatWest and Midland are both members of the Mondex scheme.

NatWest is considering applying the technology to its existing credit card customers to create a “lifestyle” card, with a host of functions. As well as a credit and debit card, the new-style card could double up as a driving licence, video card, health club membership card, AA membership card or a football season ticket.

David Poole, NatWest senior manager for Mondex implementation, says: “This student initiative isn’t a pilot, but the start of harnessing the potential of the smart card for multi-application use. Ultimately we want to offer a lifestyle card to the general public, tailored to their individual requirements.”

The launch of the NatWest student smart card follows the recent agreement by the major British high street banks to replace the existing magnetic strips on their credit cards with microchips. As well as allowing more information to be stored on the card, the use of chips makes it harder to commit credit card fraud.

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