PennCard to Move to Contactless Technology

The University has announced that over the next several years it is introducing new RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology which will transition from the magnetic stripe currently used on the PennCard, the University’s identification card, to a contactless chip. An RFID  card has an embedded chip and antenna which transmits the Penn ID when it is held within a few inches of the card reader.

This technology will offer a number of benefits to the Penn community including:

  • Improved security of access & card technology on Campus;
  • Faster transaction speed eases access;
  • The ability to integrate the PennCard for use in other systems; and
  • Enhanced operational efficiency by standardizing card technology.

In addition, the transition to this new technology allows the University to better position itself for future developments and applications in card technology such as the integration with SEPTA’s plans for its new payment technology.

The RFID technology is being piloted in the new Singh Nanotechnology Building which opened in October 2013. Following that opening, the transition will occur in a phased manner to best meet operational requirements and reduce financial impact.  Cards and readers will also have dual technology for some period of time.

The  project is jointly sponsored by the Divisions of Business Services, Public Safety, and Information Systems and Computing.  Please address any questions about the project to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information about this project visit the Contactless website.