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80% of Universities in the USA Will Enable Cashless Payments by 2020

Education Technology Research, Analysis and Commentary

A new study carried out by Futuresource Consulting gauges the size of the higher education sector in North America and Western Europe and analyses how computing devices and related technologies are employed.

Smart Campus Provides Opportunities

The study looked at the adoption of smart campus functionality, with universities linking a wide range of applications to student ID cards. This includes facilities access, attendance monitoring, library access and smart payments, with around 80% of universities in the USA expecting to enable cashless transactions by 2020.

“Uptake of smart ID cards continues to increase, improving operational efficiency and user experience by using the data collected from smart campus applications,” says Ben Davis, Principal Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “In North America, cashless payment is the key driver behind ID card systems, with 63% of establishments utilising this application. In Western Europe, attendance monitoring is the focus, with 74% of universities using this function.”

Esports on the Rise

Esports is expected to be a key driver of high-end PC acquisition for universities during the next few years, with the installed base of esports machines likely to increase by 22% in North America and 39% in Western Europe by 2021. A number of university-based esports leagues are already in place in both regions, which are not only fuelling investment in esports-capable PCs, but also AV and broadcasting equipment to equip competition spaces.

Around a third of large universities in Western Europe currently own head mounted displays (HMDs), with ownership in medium and small institutions at less than 10%. In North America, ownership levels by large and medium-sized universities are around one-fifth. Strong growth is expected, with over 80% of large and mid-size universities in North America expecting to own HMDs by 2021, with a similar scenario playing out in Western Europe.

Tier 2 Universities Embracing Cloud Storage

In both North America and Western Europe around two-thirds of universities use cloud storage solutions. “Second tier universities on both sides of the Atlantic have been the most progressive in terms of cloud adoption,” says Davis. “We class these as universities that are in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings but fall outside the global top 500. 83% of North American and 75% of Western European tier two universities are using cloud services. Uptake among first tier universities, those within the global top 500, has been slower, currently standing at 61% of North American and 69% of Western European institutions. However, it is noticeable that the tier one establishments who do use cloud tend to have more than one service provider.”

Microsoft Office remains the leading productivity tool, although Google’s G-Suite is making some inroads, with a 10% share in North America and 15% in Western Europe, perhaps a key indicator of things to come, bearing in mind the rapid acceleration of G-Suite for education in the K-12 sector.

For more information about the Futuresource education technology reports please visit

Date Published:

Michael Boreham

About the author

Michael Boreham

Michael joined Futuresource Consulting in 1990 and is a Business Studies graduate from the University of Bedfordshire. Michael is a member of the Education team and leads the research and analysis in the K-12 PC Market.

Michael is involved with creating quarterly reports on the development of the Global Mobile PC Market. In previous roles Michael was part of the Home Entertainment team tracking content global industry developments and was part of the Futuresource team monitoring the emergence of Virtual Reality.

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