Action Card now available on Apple Wallet


Jackson Fuentes, Contributing Writer

Before Apple publicly rolled out its newest contactless student identification technology via Apple Wallet, Royce Dickerson was selected to test what the UA Action Card Office said is groundbreaking and transformative technology.

Dickerson, a sophomore majoring in management and marketing, said being asked to test the technology was exciting and allowed him to see the usefulness of the service.

“With it being on our phone, it’s going to make it a lot more convenient,” Dickerson said. “Instead of having to go through your bag to find your Action Card, go through your wallet to find that Action Card, just have out your phone, put on the reader and you’re good to go.”

Students at The University of Alabama, Duke University and the University of Oklahoma made history on Oct. 2 as the first Apple consumers to be able to add their student ID cards to Apple Wallet on their iPhones and Apple Watches following Apple’s official launch of the technology.

Any student with an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or later with updated iOS 12 software and the Apple Watch Series 1 or later with watch OS5 software has the ability to upload their Action Card into their Apple Wallet, according to the Action Card office’s website.

Apple’s Vice President for Internet Services Jennifer Bailey said the technology will be simpler, faster and more secure. Bailey, who is currently ranked the 65th most creative person in business according to Fast Company, also said the technology will provide an easier Action Card experience for students at the University.

“We really do believe this enables students to leave their wallets at home and to be able to just use their devices that they are already carrying with them every day,” Bailey said. “They’ll be able to tap in to all the locations where previously they would have needed to use their physical card.”

Students had been looking for a mobile component of the UA Action Card for two years, said Jeanine Brooks, director of Action Card services.

“Two years ago, we had a resolution from the Student Government Association asking for mobile,” Brooks said. “They wanted the technology that they always had with them, which is their phone, their watch, but it was mobile, and that was important for them.”

After the SGA passed its resolution encouraging the UA ACT Card to go mobile, the Action Card office began to work with Blackboard, who was simultaneously working with Apple. Blackboard then contacted Apple and submitted The University of Alabama as one of the universities across the nation interested in sponsoring Apple’s newest Wallet technology.

Blackboard is in control of e-Accounts, an app which allows Apple’s Wallet app to add the Action Card. Blackboard is also responsible for the sensors around campus which read the Action Card.

Brooks said the needs came together simultaneously, creating an exciting opportunity that benefited everyone.

“We were very interested in mobile because of the time, and we had told Blackboard that,” Brooks said. “Blackboard had also at the same time was trying to find the right partner for mobile, that was Apple.”

Before converting the infrastructure for the new Action Card, the University chose a common-denominator chip technology that is a version of near-field communication (NFC) called DESFire EV1, Brooks said.

“We had to look at our infrastructure on campus and get all of that converted this summer,” Brooks said. “We had to get all of these different groups and systems together on campus and make sure that everywhere the card’s touching that there is a plan of action and the process had been tested.”

SGA Director of Media Relations Josh Britt, a sophomore majoring in public relations and economics, said the new infrastructure will only serve to benefit students.

“This advancement is going to really, really make student lives easier,” Britt said. “It’s going to be really useful in the coming years because that’s one less thing to carry.”

Apple plans to expand this technology in the future to other universities, Bailey said.

“We’re really excited to bring this to students and to campuses like The University of Alabama, which is really one of the first to be able to create a whole new category of services for Apple Wallet, which you could see in the future for things like other access services like hotel keys or broader corporate access,” Bailey said.

Bailey said college campuses are the right place to launch Apple’s newest contactless identification technology.

“It’s a great environment where kids are super active,” Bailey said. “They’re early adopters of technology, and they’ll give us great feedback.”

Students will be able to use their Apple Wallet on their compatible iPhones and Apple Watches to access NCAA athletic events, Bama Dining, campus mail, concessions, laundry, network printing, the student health and recreation centers, the Supe Store and many other features. Work  s still in progress to make vending machines compatible with students’ Apple Wallet.

To learn more about Apple Wallet accessibility, visit the Action Card’s website and click on “Where It Can Be Used.”