Written by Jagat Parikh on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)
Remember when you used to swipe your access card through the electromagnetic reader at the office door?
That norm will soon be done away with.
In the contemporary context, the world of access control and visitor management systems will be run by mobile-based credentials.
Instead of on a card, the visitors who come in will have their identity information on their smartphones, smartwatches, and other devices. This will be authenticated by the workplace’s physical access control system—be it a turnstile or digitally-lockable door—before allowing them access inside the premises.
In 2017, Gartner had reported that 1 in 5 companies would use smartphones as vehicles for identity management and access control by 2020. That number will only be set to increase as social distancing concepts gather momentum, and the need for contactless protocols rises.
 Gartner Says That 20 Percent of Organizations Will Use Smartphones in Place of Traditional Physical Access Cards By 2020, Rob van der Meulen.
Access cards, while still handy, have several drawbacks which mobile access credential systems solve.
1. Reduced Costs
The cost of material, micro-wire, and printing for each card can dent a company’s revenue. Some companies in the U.S. pay as high as $15-25.
In the event that a company adopts mobile-access credentials, this whole cost process is eliminated. Due to the easy availability of smartphones in the world today, your employees will already have the bare bones of the protocol. Should identification be needed, there are several protocols available to a smartphone due to its versatility: QR code, One Time Passwords (OTPs), face recognition, and other biometrics.
2. Time Needed to Implement
When a new employee or maintenance staff is recruited, the process from production to obtaining their card can take 5-7 days! Employee codes have to be known, the data has to be entered into the card, and the material needs to be bought and paid for.
When you use mobile credentials, this process is whittled down to a 3-minute process. The analogy is the process of onboarding an employee into your company: you send them a company laptop with usernames and passwords. Similarly, you only need to send them an email with the directions to download a company app that has their access credentials ready for smartphone usage whenever they make a trip into the office.
3. Contactless Process
Access cards often required the visitor to swipe through a card reader or place it face down on a different type of card reader. This process involved contact with surfaces. While this is not a major plot point in the prevention of fatal danger, it can be salient to health standards.
With a smartphone, on the other hand, you do not always need to make contact with a surface. There are a variety of technologies out there that allow remote and contactless entry.
One such example is near field communication (NFC), which has already been used in access control, due to its ability to operate on low frequency, proximity and provide selective access. NFC devices can also record the access information, time of access, how long the access is granted and other security metrics. This information can be helpful to security professionals and HR managers alike. Other technologies like Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy can also be implemented to arrange a secure and safe protocol through personal area networks (PAN).
4. Complete User Experience
Physical access control systems are often closed systems and have an inability to integrate with other IT infrastructure. But with greater availability of mobile and cloud technologies, the user experience is now superior. Employees and visitors can be notified of any workplace emergencies on their smartphones through the integrated visitor management app. Credentials and other identity information that need to be updated (such as promoted designation, higher clearance, etc.) can be easily undertaken on a mobile phone, which avoids the lengthy process of creating a new card with new credentials.
Mobile phones are also just more valuable to people and are less likely to be lost than a card!
In the world of visitor management systems (VMS) and identity and access management (IAM), it is becoming clearer and clearer that mobile-based credentials have too many advantages to not dominate the future. Smartphones, due to their quality, are conducive to several multi-factor authentication parameters which can only people to feel secure, safe, and efficient over time.
The views in this article are Jagat’s personal and not endorsed by any organization.