Hatfield Marine Science Center

Hatfield Marine Science Center Finds Creative Solution To Dwindling Donations

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The Visitor’s Center at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center was facing a serious problem. Donations were dropping, and staff members were trying to figure out why.

Then they hit on a realization. The donation box accepted cash, but very few people carry cash any more. The simple solution was to install a kiosk in the lobby that accepted donations via debit and credit cards.

But that’s when things got complicated. Because of security issues, as a governmental entity, the center wasn’t allowed to operate a wireless payment kiosk. The same issue prevented state workers such as Extension agents from using wireless card swipers when selling items at county fairs.

It all comes down to something called PCI (payment card industry) compliance. These national standards ensure the safety of debit and credit transactions, but to be in legal compliance as a state or governmental agency can be tricky. So Oregon Sea Grant’s Mark Farley, who works at the Hatfield Center, reached out to OSU’s Dee Wendler with the University Administration Business Center on campus, to find out how they could work with the State of Oregon to make compliance possible.

Wendler did some research, and was able to identify a company offering web-based PCI compliant payment services that was already under contract with the State of Oregon. However, recent changes to Oregon laws prevented OSU from utilizing the State’s contract, and prevented the Department of Justice from providing public universities advice or a review of the legal details surrounding the installation of an unmanned kiosk.

That’s when Wallace Rogers, State of Oregon manager of e-Government and Voice Services, stepped in. “It took some thinking outside the box,” Rogers said.

Rogers’ office contracts with an e-Government company, NIC-USA, to provide $1.8 billion in state e-commerce each year, and by contracting with them, Hatfield was able to be PCI compliant without taking on additional risk. Rogers’ office was able to contract with the Department of Justice to do a legal sufficiency review of the proposed Hatfield project.

Working with NIC not only allows Hatfield to install a cellular, wireless, unmanned kiosk (which should be installed by January) but may also open up the opportunity for OSU Extension agents and others who have items for sale to do so at a variety of locations outside of their offices.

“To have the ability to use a card swipe service will increase the efficiency of OSU employees, and increase their ability to do outreach,” Wendler said.

OSU’s Farley is grateful that so many entities came together to help solve what ended up being a rather complicated problem.

“Both the Justice Department and the Treasury Department went out of their way to help us negotiate the process,” Farley said.

Wendler believes if the kiosk is successful, it could be a model for other Oregon universities and state agencies.

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Albany Tribune

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