Are College Campuses Going Cashless?

Theme parks, retail stores, and restaurants are starting to embrace cashless payments as the new norm. And there are a lot of good reasons for this–cashless payments are faster, less expensive, and reduce your risk of fraud.

As a result, many people have stopped carrying cash around altogether. This is especially true for many millennial and Gen Z consumers, who tend to prefer mobile wallets, PayPal, and peer-to-peer (P2) apps.

And yet, most universities still operate under legacy payments systems. These outdated payment methods make it difficult for universities to streamline student reimbursements for things like financial aid or manage the myriad of other social transactions that occur daily on college and university campuses.

Advantages of a Cashless Campus

Cashless payments provide obvious benefits for college students, but universities have a lot to gain as well. Universities can significantly cut down on their administrative and operations costs by implementing cashless systems throughout their ecosystem.

It also creates fewer manual errors and eliminates the cost of manually managing cash. Plus, having less cash on hand is safer for everyone, since it cuts down on the risk of theft.

A cashless campus would be more convenient for students and faculty members alike. Students can pay campus fees from their smartphones, which would cut down on time spent waiting in line.

Likewise, imagine a campus where your mobile device or student card is your ticket to the big game, your parking pass, your library card, your meal ticket, your access key to your dorm, your bookstore rewards and loyalty card, your discount card to local events, etc., etc. All of these operations and functions can be streamlined and more easily managed.

Plus, a cashless campus would streamline communication, generate better data and reports, cut down on operating costs, and improve the overall efficiency of the school. And when a university can run more efficiently, it creates an environment where students are better equipped to focus on their studies and learn.

The Backlash Against Cashless Payments

Although a cashless university may sound great in theory, it may still be a long way from becoming a reality. There is often significant pushback from consumers about the idea of fully embracing cashless commerce.

Countless restaurants in the U.S. have experienced this pushback, and many states are even starting to pass laws against it. One argument against cashless payment systems is that it could harm low-income families that don’t have access to bank accounts, debit cards, or credit cards.

But this isn’t just a problem in the U.S. Last year, the National University of Singapore (NUS) announced it planned to go cashless, and the message was not well-received.

Even though 60% of all on-campus payments were cashless, many students balked at the news. An NUS spokesperson backed off, saying the university would implement the initiative slowly to give students time to adapt.


There are still many barriers in places that prevent cashless campuses from happening. It remains to be seen whether college campuses will go cashless anytime soon, but they could certainly benefit from the initiative.

But one thing is clear–the payments industry is in the midst of rapid transformation. And the younger generations will continue to drive innovative payment solutions forward.

To your success!

Written by, Brian Johnson