East Carolina University and Uptown Greenville announced a collaborative pilot program known as Bounty Bucks in early May which allows for students, faculty and staff who have a OneCard the ability to swipe it at local businesses outside of campus.
The Bounty Bucks program is the first collaboration of its kind to take place between the university and Uptown Greenville, according to Bianca Shoneman, president of Uptown Greenville.
Shoneman said the collaboration allows students and faculty members to upload money to the now-available Bounty Bucks account on their ECU OneCard. After funds are added, the user will be able to spend money at registered off-campus sites, such as University Book Exchange (U.B.E.), Smashed Waffles, amongst additional businesses which have signed on.
“We have been signing businesses, which I believe we have nine who have been registered to participate in the program now,” Shoneman said. “We’ve been registering businesses for the past month or so now and working with ECU’s One Card department and finance department.”
Currently, the nine businesses participating include: Blackbeard Coffee Roasters, the Blackened Kraken, Christy’s Euro Pub, Cinnamon Indian Cuisine, Globe Pharmacy, Jimmy Johns, Smashed Waffles, U.B.E. and Coastal Fog, according to the Uptown Greenville website.
If a business is interested in becoming a part of the Bounty Bucks program, they have the ability to apply through a third party administer, known as C-BORD, where the restaurant or retail store is able to register, according to Shoneman. C-BORD administers the card-swipe machines needed to read ECU One Card transactions at off-campus sites.
In order to encourage local businesses to participate in the Bounty Bucks program, Shoneman said the Board of Directors for Uptown Greenville offered an incentive.
“There’s a fee that businesses have to pay to acquire the card swipe machine or point of sale, if you would, and as a result our board said, ‘Hey we really want this program to be successful, we want it to be successful for students but we also want it to be successful for our business community.’ So we’ve created this small, little grant program,” Shoneman said.
Shoneman said the board committed to providing up to $250 to participating businesses to differ the cost of the card swipe machine fee owners must pay before they are able to have it installed. She said the grant is “capped,” which means only the first 10 businesses to register for the program are eligible to receive the money.
By differing the cost of participation in the program with the grant, Uptown Greenville officials hoped to see a high success rate for local businesses to participate in the program, Shoneman said. She said, since the program is new to ECU, Bounty Bucks users are encouraged to give feedback about the program so it can “better reflect student interest.”
Shoneman said the first off-campus business to register for the Bounty Bucks program was U.B.E. Yvonne Perry, the general manager at U.B.E. said the business was able to accept OneCard payments on May 1.
“I feel like the university is stepping up and doing their part now in making more dining and shopping experiences available to their students, and it’s a win-win for everyone involved, especially the students,” Perry said.
At U.B.E. there are nine registers placed throughout the building, but Bounty Bucks are only accepted at one register due to the business only having one set of the ECU OneCard compatible swipe machines, Perry said.
Perry said all products sold by U.B.E. are eligible to be purchased with Bounty Bucks, including textbooks. Additionally, she said if a student buys a textbook with Bounty Bucks and chooses to participate in “buy back” they will receive cash back.
“I think the success rate is going to be very good once they learn about it,” Perry said. “Like with any new program, it takes a while for people to understand the program and for word to get out that the program is even available to them. Once it’s known and it’s made more available to students and they know more about it, then I think it’s going to be very helpful.”
Leslie Craigle, director of marketing for auxiliary services at ECU, said students and faculty can load funds into a Bounty Bucks account by going to the university’s OneCard office in person or online through PiratePort. She said Bounty Bucks are different than meal plan bucks such as Purple or Gold bucks.
Craigle said there are items prohibited to be purchased by Bounty Bucks, such as alcohol, lottery tickets, drug paraphernalia, tobacco, vaping products, gift cards, money orders, firearms, ammunition, tanning, tattoos and piercings. She said the program is focused on dining and retail businesses in the Uptown area.