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Stanford, Wells Fargo to collaborate on new high-tech ID cards

STANFORD -- Stanford has reached a partnership agreement with Wells Fargo Bank that will enable the university to issue high-tech, multiple-function identification cards for all students, faculty and staff.

University Registrar Roger Printup said the agreement was completed the week of May 22, after months of research and negotiations with several financial institutions.

Faculty, staff and students all will have the option of linking their identification card to a Wells Fargo Bank account and using the card at ATMs. There are four Wells Fargo ATMs and a staffed branch bank on campus.

The banking link is strictly optional, Printup said.

Stanford's new identification cards will feature a color photograph of the bearer, and a magnetic strip on the reverse.

The partnership with Wells Fargo will make it possible for Stanford to issue the initial group of more than 20,000 cards in an efficient and organized manner, Printup said.

"We felt that Wells Fargo offered the most effective system that benefits students and the university, because there's almost no limit to the financial services we can link into these cards because of the partnership," Printup said.

Elsa Schafer, a vice president with Wells Fargo, said that bank is the only one affiliated with campus cards on the West Coast. The bank introduced a similar card last August at California State University-Chico, making it the first campus in the state to offer an ID card linked to a financial institution.

Wells Fargo has the capability to produce mass numbers of the cards in just a few minutes apiece, she said.

At first, the student cards will serve as identification cards and will replace the current dining plan cards, and give students access to the libraries, recreational facilities and Cowell Student Health Service. Students who pre-deposit funds into a spending account also will be able to use the card to make purchases from retail outlets at Tresidder Union and elsewhere. In the future, students might also be able to use the cards to gain access to residences.

"Traditionally, students have had to carry separate cards to check out a library book, use the campus meal plan or gain access to recreational facilities," Schafer said. "Now they will need only one."

Information on a linked bank account will remain proprietary and separate from the university administration, and vice versa. Neither Stanford nor Wells Fargo will have access to each other's student or customer records.

For faculty and staff, the card is intended primarily for basic identification, and access to libraries and recreational facilities. It may someday be used as a "gate card" to enter controlled parking areas.

"We are in the final stages of deciding exactly what we want to do first," said Jack Farrell, associate registrar and project director. "There's really no limit to how many things we can link into these cards over time."

The total cost of the project is estimated at about $500,000. Over time, Farrell said, the new cards should be more cost efficient than the current system of photo-less paper identification cards. For instance, faculty and staff no longer will be issued new cards each fall; the new cards will be valid from the date of issue until the time the bearer leaves the university. And if an employee forgets to return the card, it doesn't matter -- the account can be invalidated electronically by the university.

The cards, designed with the assistance of students, include the bearer's photo, university ID number and affiliation (faculty/staff or student). Job categories and departments will not be included, so that the card does not have to be re-issued whenever one's title or department changes. The reverse side features the magnetic strip and, possibly, a signature stripe. The final version still is being designed.

Cards for those who opt for the banking affiliation will look slightly different. The front will have the words "Wells Fargo" in addition to the other information. On the back will be the same information and icons for ATM networks found on other Wells Fargo cards.

Details on how the cards will be issued will be made available at a later date, Printup said. Preliminary plans are for much of the faculty and staff to be issued new cards over the summer, with most students receiving theirs when they return to campus at the end of September.



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