Received as a success, the Domain Dollars pilot proved itself an effective means of transacting business with Sewanee village merchants utilizing a university-hosted declining balance account. From April 2016 to Saturday of graduation weekend, 150 student pilot participants spent approximately $7,500 at three restaurant merchants.
With the success of first pilot, the university will implement a second pilot program that will test an online third party deposit system called GET Funds. The university still has to test interest in depositing funds in a Domain Dollars account and the online deposit mechanism itself in order to determine the viability of the program. GET Funds will provide a website and smart phone app with real access to Domain Dollar accounts. The transactions will still operate in the same way as the first pilot, but students will now have access to their account balances via the GET Funds phone app, as well as add funds to their account.
The second pilot will run through the end of the fall semester and continue through the academic year for pilot participants that wish to maintain their accounts into the spring term.
The value proposition to students is that, with a $50.00 Domain Dollars deposit, their meal plan Flex Dollar account “pub bucks” will be available for food purchases at participating downtown restaurants and Stirling’s, as well as the Tiger Bay Pub and McClurg.
The selection process for the student pilot participants will take place in late September and early October, and the university will randomly choose two hundred students from the applicant list. Students will receive a cstudent email invitation to participate in the second pilot on Thursday, September 29 with a link to an online application form, which will be accepted until Sunday, October 2 at midnight.
The random selection process will be completed by Tuesday, October 4, and selected students will be notified that Tuesday evening with instructions on how to make their opening online Domain Dollar deposit.
Selected pilot participants will make a minimum opening deposit of $50.00 in a Domain Dollars account from Tuesday, October 4 to Sunday, October 9. Students and/or their parents may make deposits. The second Domain Dollars pilot should begin on Friday, October 14.
Other attributes of Domain Dollars and its second pilot: Pilot participants’ food purchases will come from flex dollar accounts first and then Domain Dollars based on fund availability in each account. The base of Domain Dollar businesses will increase to include additional food service locations, non-food merchants and oncampus services. Students may close Domain Dollar accounts at any time, and their remaining balances will refund to student accounts only. Naturally, though, Domain Dollars may not be used to purchase alcoholic beverages.
Merchants may devise their own Domain Dollars “specials” to create further value to students, as opposed to paying with cash or credit and debit cards.