Access Control Mobile Credentials: Growth Trends, Challenges & User Adoption

Four out of 5 of security leaders rely on mobile applications to manage their facilities and people according to our research.  However, only 25% of the same survey respondents report offering mobile credentials to their employees or tenants. We sat down recently with Brivo founder and CEO Steve Van Till to find out why adoption of mobile credentials is lagging and why it’s so important for the industry to change that.


Q: What are the obstacles preventing widespread adoption of mobile credentials?


A: One reason lies with the employees and tenants themselves. With the rise of BYOD (bring your own device), employees are having more and more business apps loaded onto their phones, and they are becoming more conscious about how those apps are gathering and sharing their information. Businesses that want to adopt mobile credentials need to find ways to balance user privacy with getting the data they need to make mobile credentials a viable option.


On the hardware side, the delay in adoption is related to the fact that we have a very large base of installed legacy readers that lack the Bluetooth support needed for many mobile credential apps. The good news is there has been widespread adoption of Bluetooth readers in the last year, indicating that the rate of adoption is accelerating.


Even with the right hardware, there are still process changes that enterprise organizations need to make to roll out mobile credentials. In particular, mobile credentials require a strong relationship between facility and security departments and IT. The IT department has to make sure mobile devices are properly integrated with their platforms, that they are able to do device updates, and that mobile integration is tied into their overall IT strategy.


Q: Despite these challenges, why do you think mobile credentials are about to take off?


A: Simply put, everything is going mobile. Our digital identities are shaping the way we talk, trade, and transact online and fueling the digital economy. Naturally, the younger generation is particularly mobile-centric, but mobile use and dependence is rising in every age group. It stands to reason that consumers will increasingly expect and even assume that their phones will provide access to facilities in the same way they are integral to other everyday tasks.


Mobile-only access control is already being implemented in verticals that cater primarily to younger users, such as universities and coworking spaces. We expect others to follow suit.


Q: What trends can we expect from mobile credentials in the future?


A: Much like cloud is fundamental to a lot of other technologies, the existence of mobile credentials is the first step of many in the evolution of security applications in the hands of your employees and/or tenants. Regardless of what you call the population, you are protecting, those people will be adopting mobile credentials, but that is just the first step. As nice as it is to have mobile credentials versus cards, security manufacturers have a lot more functions coming down the pike. Today mobile credentials are a convenient way to open doors. Tomorrow it will be sending mass notifications. The next day it will be interacting with visitor management applications, and so on.


Such a multi-faceted use of mobile credentials is made possible through APIs that allow other app providers to integrate mobile access into other vertical-specific apps. For example, one of the end users we work with has a community management software platform for multifamily. They’ve accessed our APIs with their software to embed access control into their platform that also does other things like giving access to the gym and allow people to schedule yoga classes.


Q: How can security professionals benefit from the mobile trend?


A: The first step is finding an access control dealer that offers products with mobile credentials since none of the other things I’ve described can happen without that. Again, like cloud being a planning stage for all the other things that come after it, setting up an access control system that supports mobile credentials is a first step to the next three or four or five steps in the evolution of that platform. Once you have a mobile credential offering, you can work with app suppliers in your industry to integrate access control into broader applications that will wow customers and tenants alike.


For more information about mobile credentials and other trends you should be following, download our report, 3 Drivers of Digital Transformation in Physical Security.