6 min read

Migrating to Mobile Credentials

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Easily update your access control technology to include mobile credentials 

There are many factors that differentiate security needs across industries. However, from hospitals to office buildings to universities, most organizations have one thing in common: smartphone use. Mobile credentials leverage the security and capabilities of smartphones while at the same time delivering ease and reliability to employees, vendors and visitors.

What Are Mobile Credentials?

Mobile credentials allow access control systems to rely on smartphone technology instead of requiring staff to carry plastic keycards at all times. While most access control systems have historically relied on cards and card readers, phone-based access control hinges on mobile phones, which are much less frequently lost and lent. 

Smartphones can take the place of keycards and offer more reliable security, in-depth data, and a smoother, more convenient user experience.

Why Migrate?

Migrating to mobile credentials can benefit your business in several ways — and it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. 

User experience

For healthcare centers, residential buildings, educational facilities and every business in between, the access control experience can play an important role in the way staff begin their day and the way visitors first experience your business. Your staff, clients or tenants will be able to smoothly and efficiently access the spaces they need, without needing to keep track of an extra card. Instead of digging around in a briefcase or wallet, people entering the building or a particular space can do so with a touchless wave of their mobile device. Chances are, it was in their hand anyway! 

Reliable security

It’s all too easy for plastic keycards to be dropped, lost, lent out, or stolen. Especially in buildings requiring keyed access to multiple doors or areas, keeping a keycard in a back pocket or lending it to a coworker without thinking twice might be a common occurrence. Even with the best intentions, these practices and accidents can lead to serious security gaps and make it impossible to know how well your protocols are truly working. 

On the other hand, smartphones have become such important resources in our daily lives that it’s extremely unlikely to leave them lying around haphazardly or to lend them out, even for a few minutes. If you lose your phone, you’ll likely notice relatively quickly and work to find it or remotely wipe the data. Plus, while keycards can be cloned, mobile credentials cannot. For added security, access systems can also require two-factor authentication, asking users to use face ID or thumbprint to confirm they are the owner of the phone and credential before allowing access to an area.

Access control systems leveraging mobile credentials offer convenience and flexibility without sacrificing security. 


Enterprises that have implemented mobile credentials include universities, hospitals and law firms, to name a few. Because these systems are deeply customizable and flexible, businesses and organizations of all types can benefit from their strategic use. For example, hospitals can utilize separate credential technologies for sensitive areas or restricted access wards like the maternity ward or secure supply closets. 

In many organizations, several different types of credentials may be needed in order for staff, visitors, administrators and guests to each have access to the spaces they should have access to — no more and no less. Managing access becomes easy and seamless with most mobile credential solutions as access permissions can be granted remotely. Likewise, as employees leave or guest access expires, permissions can be revoked automatically. No need to track anyone down to collect their keycard!

Simple adoption 

There are various technological solutions for incorporating mobile credentials into an access control system, each with their own pros and cons. Mobile credentials rely on Bluetooth (BLE), Near Field Communication (NFC), or Ultrawideband in order to communicate between the phone and the reader. From there, a variety of hardware and software solutions can be integrated into your new or current system to enable card readers to recognize mobile credentials. 

Fortunately, with the right technology, adoption can be simple and seamless. Minimal hardware can be installed to make existing readers mobile-ready. Transitioning to a future-ready system doesn’t have to be excessively costly or time consuming either. Over time the simplified management of mobile credentials can save many hours of admin time, positively impacting your bottom line. 

Managing mobile credentials in the cloud can also help to add a new layer of security insight and ease the burden of system administration. Store and manage badges, photo IDs, credentials and more, without worrying about an on-site server.

Pandemic protocols

Taking the guesswork out of building locations and access control data also allows you to more proactively integrate and act on pandemic protocols. With mobile credentials already relying on individuals’ cell phones, contact tracing, physical distancing, and risk notification systems follow seamlessly. Stay on top of crucial pandemic requirements and keep your staff, clients, and visitors safe. 

Mobile credentials also allow for visitors and staff to receive their credentials without physically checking in at a common area or front desk. Especially in high-traffic situations like hospitals and universities, avoiding a large congregation of visitors can help prevent the spread of viruses. Instead, you can verify, register, and assign specific access to users all through their smartphones. Once they are in use, mobile credentials allow for touch-free access, further mitigating the spread of germs. 

Migration Process

The process of migrating to phone-based credentials can be extremely simple with the right provider. 

Existing access control systems

If your building or campus has been relying on card-based access control for years, you’re certainly not alone. Fortunately, it’s not always necessary to do a full overhaul of existing access control hardware in order to migrate to mobile credentials. 

Instead, consider solutions like installing universal translators on each of your readers in order to allow them to pick up mobile credentials. Installation is quick, easy, and minimally disruptive. This way, the transition is smooth as staff can retain the use of their current keycards until they are registered for their mobile credentials. No full-blown, expensive updates needed!

New access control systems

For businesses that are just beginning to evaluate security systems and don’t have an access control system yet, there are several solutions for devices with mobile credential technology already built-in. And for those organizations that still require a combination of both traditional keycards and mobile credentials, there are plenty of options to choose from that support multiple technologies.

Additional implications

In certain situations, the migration to mobile credentials will require a mindset shift. For example, some employees are understandably hesitant to store work-related applications on their personal smartphones. From phone storage concerns to privacy issues, some workplaces may need to provide in-depth rollout and transition plans in order to address user concerns to fully adopt mobile credentials. 

At the same time, use cases like universities will likely see a markedly smooth and natural integration, as schoolwork and various other aspects of students’ lives hinge on the communication and data on their smartphones. 

Migrating to mobile credentials also further raises the issue of converging physical and cybersecurity. Moving from plastic keycards to smartphones introduces another factor to consider when it comes to cybersecurity. While the use of a smartphone can be inherently more secure than a keycard, there are always new challenges that arise with the advent of new technologies. 

Overall, the migration to mobile credentials can allow for a more streamlined, reliable, and flexible access control system.