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The Daily Tar Heel

Wachovia Accounts Link to UNC ONE Cards

ONE Card officials activated a new feature on Wachovia-linked cards this week, allowing students to transfer funds directly from their checking accounts to their ONE Card accounts.

The transaction can be made 24 hours a day from any touch tone phone, but money cannot be transferred from a ONE Card account to a checking account.

The feature was gradually activated last week, and officials identified student use almost immediately. Greg Horn, a senior environmental studies and Spanish major, said he wasn't familiar with the new ONE Card option but that he could see how it would be useful to him. "That's something I would be interested in," Horn said.

The new feature is only the latest in a series of updates to ONE Cards. On July 1, 1999, UNC entered into a contract with Wachovia that allowed students to link ONE Cards to Wachovia checking accounts. The cards also function as ATM cards in addition to their standard features.

Mike Freeman, director of Card Services, said introduction of the linked cards was delayed until fall 2000 due to problems with software development.

But by May, 25 percent of students had linked their ONE Cards to a checking account, said Jim Clinton, UNC ONE Card office manager.

Clinton said the majority of students utilizing this option are underclassmen because they received the Wachovia cards as incoming freshmen.

Upperclassmen who have the old version of the ONE Card need to get a new one before they can link it to a Wachovia checking account. Clinton said students can have the new cards made free of charge in the ONE Card Office. He said upperclassmen will continue to change over to the new cards and take advantage of the linked account.

Freeman said interest in linking ONE Cards with checking accounts was sparked by students about four years ago. Student representatives were included on the committees that implemented the program during the next few years.

The next scheduled upgrade will turn the linked ONE Cards into Visa debit cards. Clinton said he hopes this improvement will occur by Jan. 1, 2002. These cards will be accepted at all retail locations that take debit cards.

Unlike debit cards requested from a bank, which must be mailed to the consumer, these debit cards will be immediately available in the ONE Card office.

Eventually, officials hope to be able to activate the cards over the Internet from the ONE Card office.

Clinton said having the technology to create the cards on campus provides the additional benefit of allowing students to replace a lost or stolen card immediately.

But making blank debit cards in the ONE Card office raises certain security concerns, Clinton said. "Visa has interviewed for security pretty intensely," he said. "(Visa will provide) security cameras, safes will be in place to make it secure, and we'll have our own internal procedures."

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