Last week, three College students announced the creation of a new debit card, Axle, designed to facilitate cheaper small-scale transactions. These developers hope the card will become widely used by Harvard students and accepted at stores across Harvard Square. We welcome this announcement and achievement, and commend these student entrepreneurs for their innovative spirit and their attempt to improve the lives of Harvard students.
We are generally cautious about the rapid commercial changes in Harvard Square, and have lamented the increased cost associated with this transformation. Yet, we believe that Axle’s developers are providing an opportunity for more affordable shopping in Harvard Square by eliminating that fees generally charged by larger debit and credit card companies.
Too often, students feel as though we are not in a position to effect change in the broader world and that the economic realities of our lives rely heavily on the business decisions of large corporations. Yet as a core value, Harvard instills in its students the drive to challenge the status quo and the institutions that govern our lives. This principle should apply equally to the businesses and financial institutions that affect our daily lives — from large-scale issues like student debt to smaller-scale purchases, such as El Jefe’s burritos and BerryLine frozen yogurt. To that end, we applaud the founders of Axle for taking matters into their own hands and challenging the notion that students are too young or ignorant to shake up the business world.
We are pleased to see that students are stepping up to provide services they feel are lacking in the current market. The founders of Axle have identified the need to facilitate rapid, small-value transactions without the traditional fees that come with processing debit cards, and they have taken decisive action to fulfill that market niche. By doing so, they are directly impacting change that can make the lives of students more affordable in the day to day. Furthermore, the positive responses from potential student users indicate that their product has the potential to benefit a wider population beyond Harvard students.
However, the founders of Axle should be careful about data privacy concerns that may arise from their service. While Axle is currently limited to three vendors in Harvard Square, it may face problems as the number of users and card-accepting vendors grow. We have previously raised concerns about data breaches that may occur when collecting students’ private financial information. As Axle is used to make financial transactions, the stakes of protecting the sensitive private data it stores are considerable. Simplifying small financial transactions is helpful, but the developers must show caution and ensure that user data is well protected.
Overall, we are heartened to see that student entrepreneurship is continuing on this campus. The developers of Axle are showing how students can actualize novel entrepreneurial endeavors that can improve the lives of students and other consumers. We hope to see more student entrepreneurs come up with creative business plans like this, providing helpful services and allowing them to gain valuable experience.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.