The rise and rise of mobile credentials

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James Ensten, VP of Sales (USA), at Integrated Control Technology (ICT) explores the continuing growth in mobile credentials and looks at what we might see in the year ahead.

The market outlook

For years, industry professionals have been talking about how mobile credentials will change access control and security.

Lately, it seems an increasing number of end-users are catching on to this too, so after a decade, we may have finally reached a tipping point.

The mobile access control credentials market is set to reach over $750 million by 2028, up from a revenue of only $295 million in 2022 – a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 17%.

This is despite still being seen as an emerging technology.

A recent study of integrators by IPVM found a mobile credential usage rate of between 10% and 20%, showing how much room they have to grow when compared to 125kHz or 13.65MHz technology.

The rising importance of mobile

Mobile credentials, leveraging near field communications (NFC) or Bluetooth technology, have emerged as a modern and efficient solution for access control.

They offer several benefits over traditional methods, including enhanced convenience, robust security and cost-effectiveness.

There are also arguments to make that they are more sustainable, as they remove the need to manufacture plastic cards.

By removing the need for physical cards that can be easily lost or forgotten, mobile credentials provide users with seamless access using their smartphones – a device that is always on hand.

Elevating higher education

Universities and other higher education institutions have been at the forefront of mobile credential adoption as a reaction to the mobile-first demands of their young user base and the multitude of benefits they offer.

This not only improves security but also streamlines operations.

Students appreciate the convenience of using their smartphones for access, reducing the risk and cost of lost or misplaced physical access cards and administrators save time and money on issuing and credential management.

The fact that many students are willing to trade a certain level of privacy for greater convenience has also fueled the adoption of these credentials.

As more uses for these credentials develop – such as paying for food via the same app or wallet that allows access – institutions collect increasingly personal data.

This wealth of information from various sources allows for a more personalized student experience, catering to unique needs and schedules.

This could be as simple as open access to a building during the day, but restricted access to certain users after hours, or even using a tool such as area counting so security can make informed decisions about where to patrol if students are studying late at night.

An increase in data also brings great responsibility, which is why it’s crucial that universities ensure proper cybersecurity measures are in place to protect against potential data risks.

However, it also makes it easier to integrate mobile credentials into existing systems, to provide a seamless access control experience.

Multifamily goes mobile

The multifamily residential market is ripe for disruption by mobile credentials.

Managed residential properties, including multi-dwelling units (MDUs), can benefit significantly from the convenience and security offered by mobile credentials.

Combined with wireless locks, mobile credentials transform the way access control is managed in these settings.

Residents no longer need to carry physical keys or access cards, minimizing the risk of loss or theft.

Property managers can easily issue and revoke mobile credentials, simplifying access rights management.

The recently released Protege Wireless Locks are a perfect example of this technology in use for MDUs.

Now just a single credential is required to get from the perimeter, right through to entry at an apartment door.

When paired with the Protege Mobile App, which also offers access to visitors or for deliveries via video call directly to your smartphone, you can begin to see the power that a full mobile offering can provide.

These combinations are shaping a new era of access control in the multifamily residential sector, meeting the evolving expectations of tenants and making property management more efficient.

Smart tools can reduce tenant turnover and even increase rental returns, as nearly all millennial tenants are willing to pay more for mobile-first tech like electronic access and keyless locks.

Custom solution eases pain

Eugene Klimaszewski, President of Mammoth Security in New Britain, CT uses ICT’s custom integration tools to deliver a unified solution for his customers between Protege GX and property management systems (PMS).

As well as combining access control, intrusion and building automation, mobile credentials are being tested as part of the mix.

Klimaszewski said: “We’re making smart new access control features possible for the first time.”

“Most newer vehicles can be unlocked and started via a phone so why not your building doors?

“Our MDU customers have deployed mobile credentials to streamline the onboarding process.

“You can send a new tenant their mobile credential via e-mail without a visit to the leasing manager.

“Mobile credentials also help with collecting keys, one of the hardest roles of a property manager.

“Rather than needing to change locks or chasing up to return a fob or card, a mobile credential automatically deactivates when tenants are removed from the PMS.”

Klimaszewski reinforced that all the benefits of mobile credentials also stack up here.

“People lose fobs all the time on their keychains but never lose their phones. With mobile credentials, you have one less item to remember.

“If automation and remote work are the future, then mobile credentials are the future standard for building access systems.”

What to expect in 2024

Looking to the year ahead, it’s all about what can be done to make mobile credentials even better.

As we work toward a point where these are seen as just another credential, here’s several trends that you can expect to shape the space.

Development of reader hardware will continue with inclusion of Apple’s Enhanced Contactless Polling protocol.

It will also deliver features like auto-presentment which selects the correct pass when presented to the reader – a necessity once people start to have multiple mobile credentials on a device.

This will further enable seamless integration of mobile credentials with Apple and Android wallets.

Advances are also being made to make mobile credentials more secure and reusable thanks to distributed identity management.

While this brings additional benefits to users, it can place more burden on administrators, while reducing a users’ visibility to an organization.

However, by providing users with even more convenient access solutions and technologies such as these, it will only further drive the adoption of mobile credentials.

Adoption, advancement and consensus

While verticals like higher education and multifamily residential are leading the charge when it comes to mobile credentials, there are still a few areas where the kinks need to be worked out.

Now that increasing numbers of end-users are dipping their toes in, this will only further accelerate the work already going on to improve the mobile experience – from the hardware to deployment and useability, while also exploring the many integration possibilities that exist.

How that looks and feels is still to play out. However, there now seems to be a clear consensus that mobile credentials are indeed a key part of the future of access control.

This article on executive protection was originally published in the January edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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