Mobile Credentials For Access Control

We can now do just about everything with our smartphones, so it seems only fitting that they can now be used as credentials for access control systems. Mobile access control credentials provide an easy, convenient and cost-efficient alternative to access cards and biometric credentials.  They simply utilize the device the user already carries with them, and considering how ubiquitous smartphones already are, make access control accessible to virtually everyone. They also provide a range of features that traditional access control options simply do not, and work with access control systems of all different sizes and configurations.

How Mobile Credentials For Access Control Work

Mobile access control credentials allow users to access facilities with nothing more than an app on their smartphone, tablet or even smartwatch. Almost all mobile access control systems are compatible with iPhone and Android, the most popular smartphone operating systems, and many will work with lesser-known platforms as well. They can function through a variety of technologies, such as:


Mobile Access Control systems use Bluetooth to communicate between the smartphone (or other device) as well as the credential reader. They often do this through Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth Low Energy uses much less power and data than regular Bluetooth and can stay on in the background and immediately initialize when within range of the access control reader (usually a few feet), transferring signals and information instantaneously. To unlock the door, you can simply press a button on the appropriate app, or even unlock using a twisting motion of your phone that imitates a key turning and unlocks the door.

Near-Field Communication

Near-Field Communication allows users to set up connection between the reader and the smartphone, using induction of electromagnetic fields. Phones will usually need to be within very close range (often a few inches) of the reader, and not all phones are compatible with NFC technology and software. This is the same technology in mobile payment method as well, such as Apple Pay.


Many systems now use Wi-Fi as well, as it provides a simple method of connection using an IP-based network. Wireless-enabled door locks are connected to the wireless access point via the IP network, and can be configured in an entire network of access points and door locks. They are then controlled via a software on a computer or server, or via mobile app on smart devices. In some cases, Wi-Fi network connections also allow for remote access with increased range, as the smartphone only needs an internet connection to establish credentials when necessary.

QR Codes

Some mobile access control systems even work with QR codes, with readers that simply scan the QR code provided on the smartphone to unlock the door. This is perhaps the easiest and most accessible form of mobile credential available. Each QR code is uniquely generated by the software to guarantee security.

Sharing and Receiving Access Credentials

Sharing credentials with users is easy with mobile access control and can be done either via integrated access control apps, or via email and text message. Access credentials and bar codes can simply be sent to the employee, who will pull it up on their phone and swipe it at the access point.

Access control systems with mobile credentials usually work with a variety of different credentials. They’ll usually have a backup method of accessing the system, in case mobile passes do not work, such as with a backup access card or key.

What Are Some Other Benefits Of Mobile Access Credentials?

Mobile credentials are useful not just for their convenience, but also for the many features often found in the app or software, integrating a host of other security features. For system administrators, these include remote viewing of video footage at access points, accessing activity logs, and quick changing and customization of access permissions. They can even lock and unlock doors remotely on demand. Users can customize the app to organize their passes and credentials how they need them most, placing all the credentials in one easy-to-access place.

Where Does It Make Sense To Use Mobile Access Control Systems?

Mobile credentials work for businesses and facilities of all sizes. Server-based mobile systems are more expensive to setup and install up-front than regular access control systems, but can provide increased cost savings over time, as it eliminates the need for creating, updating and replacing physical access cards. Thus, they may be out of the reach of smaller businesses but can be a convenient improvement for medium- and larger-size companies with the budget needed to install them. Cloud-based mobile access systems, on the other hand, are significantly less expensive to install and use over time. People are also less likely to lose their mobile phones, as opposed to smaller, generic access cards.

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