Despite a current lack of infrastructure and supporting devices, mobile electronic keys using NFC technology are expected to become the future of access control, according to Rachel Sa of ASSA Abloy Future Labs.
Aside from the obvious point that electronic credentials take up less space than physical items like contactless cards or key fobs, Sa argues that the major advantage of the mobile contactless credential lies in its ability to be sent instantly to the end user’s handset, providing a greater level of convenience and security.
Additionally, mobile credentials can be used for a variety of applications such as in private residences, in commercial buildings for employees, and even in hotels. In the latter case, companies like VingCard let users check in remotely to their hotel via mobile phone. Once the reservation is confirmed, the hotel sends the guest an NFC room key, allowing the guest to go straight to his or her room and unlock the door with a tap of a phone.
However, Sa argues that the commercial sector will see the most benefit from mobile contactless credentials. With the technology, security managers could remotely provide access credentials to all users, from visitors to high level execs, via a central access control system. Aside from saving time and money, this system would also feature real-time traceability, letting managers to see precisely when a credential was used.
“The most fundamental benefit of mobile contactless credentials for access control is that you can actually deliver the keys digitally because you will have universally secure elements in the mobile phone,” says Daniel Berg, vice president and general manager Mobile Keys with ASSA ABLOY. “This has never been possible before. With existing contactless access control solutions, you must physically hand out plastic cards or fobs to the users to issue access rights. And to update the credentials, you need physical access to them again. So the phone becomes more than just a holder of the credential in the way cards and fobs hold an access credential. Rather, the phone can also receive the key digitally.”
According to Berg, in order for mobile contactless credentials to get off the ground, the industry needs a full system that will deliver contactless credentials from an access control system to an end user.
“The technology is there,” adds Berg. “Now it is up to innovative companies to put all the pieces together.”
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