Five Reasons Why

Your Campus Needs LEAF Credentials

| 08/12/2020
Mike Conlin 


Millions of students, faculty, and staff walk through the doors on college and university campuses every day. Schools will invest millions of dollars installing physical access control systems and issuing credentials to each person, in an effort to ensure the right people are moving through the right doors at the right time. Similarly, these institutions will spend money ensuring these same people have appropriate access to a variety of devices and applications throughout the entire campus ecosystem. Oftentimes, these are disparate, stand-alone, solutions that end up creating extra maintenance efforts, costs, and security gaps.

In a perfect world, a student’s ID card should seamlessly and securely let them in the door. If that card could also be used to log onto their computer, reserve library books, purchase food at the cafeteria or tickets to a campus sporting event, wouldn’t that be even better? A student’s ID card is their key to everything they need and want to do on campus in one package. LEAF is providing the tools to make these concepts a reality.

What is a LEAF Credential?

Essentially, a LEAF Credential is your Student ID card. For example, at the University of Georgia, it’s their UGA One card. It’s the card you carry that can be used everywhere on campus. It’s highly secure, flexible, and has multiple purposes.

LEAF is the definition for the memory structure (aka data structure) on a DESFire Ev2 or Ev3 card. A memory structure is like an invisible floor plan on the card which outlines where specific kinds of data is stored/accessed and protected by encryption keys. LEAF is made available to all device manufacturers who design readers that will read an RF chip card otherwise known as a Smart Card.

Why is LEAF Important? 

When all devices read a common memory structure, it results in a secure student ID card that can be used for everything. A few examples include access to student housing, billing for cafeteria purchases, debit for Coca-Cola vending machines, tap and go at the Library, and for campus transportation. When many device manufacturers adopt a common memory structure it becomes a defacto “standard”. The LEAF specification is becoming widely adopted by end users as well as manufacturers. When the support is mutual, it leads to unlimited interoperability and breaks the chains otherwise established by proprietary solutions.

The LEAF specification is open and evangelized by a critical mass of users who seek highly secure, interoperable solutions and who are no longer tolerant of proprietary products.

Who’s Using LEAF?

College and University campuses, Global Commercial corporations, Financial institutions, generally any organization that controls access to their facilities can and do use LEAF. It’s noteworthy to point out that LEAF is used mainly in environments where high security and interoperability are a Must Have.

What We Will Cover

In this post we will be sharing key points that explain why LEAF is so valuable to Colleges & Universities.

5 Reasons Why Your Campus Needs LEAF Credentials

1. LEAF Enables Multi-Vendor Sourcing.

Are you buying credentials from only one source for only one price? The adoption of LEAF for a College or University enables competitive pricing on credentials. LEAF is designed around the world’s most secure and openly sourced MIFARE DESFire EV2 & Ev3 chip. This means you can purchase your physical credentials through multiple sources around the world.

2. LEAF Allows You to Standardize on Encrypted Technology.

Standardizing on the encrypted, MIFARE DESFire EV2 chip technology protects your institution from security risks associated with legacy technology such as low-frequency Proximity or Magstripe. Both of these legacy credential technologies are easy to copy with commercially available devices that can be purchased on Amazon, and other well-known web-based sourcing houses.

3. LEAF Enables You to Own a Unique Encryption Keyset. 

Unlike the popular “common key” commercial market solution, where a vendor-owned universal or “common” encryption keyset is embedded in every single card and reader deployed in the market, LEAF allows you to own a unique keyset, one that is guaranteed secure and controlled entirely by you.

4. LEAF Guarantees Device Support For a One Card Campus Solution.

Besides access control readers, does your campus also utilize devices and applications such as:

  • Secure printers
  • Integrated locks
  • Embedded logical access readers (student computers)
  • Cafeteria POS
  • Ticketing Services (Sporting Events, Theatre)
  • Employee Time and Attendance Application
  • Library Management System
  • Multi-tenant student housing environment
  • Biometric readers
  • Vending machines

5. LEAF Creates a Future Proof Access Environment.

Owning your encryption keys means you will never be stuck in an end-of-life situation. Should you decide to switch to a new access control reader, for example, your LEAF credentials will continue to support your legacy readers as well as any new LEAF-enabled readers you may introduce into the mix. You have the power to share/provision your keys with any device/application manufacturer who you would like to work with.


LEAF Total Cost of Ownership is unparalleled.

Being able to price shop your credentials through multiple sources is only the beginning. The total cost of investing in LEAF Credentials and even Key Management Services (like those offered by WaveLynx Technologies far outweigh the costs associated with purchasing vendor owned and managed encryption credentials where you have to pay additional OEM module fees in order to have your proprietary card work on other devices and applications in the ecosystem. LEAF standards ensure that there are no additional module fees or licensing fees required to have your customer-owned LEAF encrypted credentials work on any LEAF enabled devices of your choosing.

It is important to understand that with the introduction of LEAF, it is now possible to procure an openly sourced, non-proprietary, highly secure, encrypted credential that can unite user access to all devices and applications in the immediate environment and also ensure future interoperability as the ecosystem continues to grow over time.

For more information on LEAF partners and LEAF enabled products, visit

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