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Mobile Authentication: Five Reasons To Go Mobile

Thinking of “Going Mobile” for user authentication and access control? More organizations are adding smartphone authentication to their ID management solutions. Mobile authentication using Near-field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) is now being implemented alongside—or instead of—traditional user authentication technologies with Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) badges.

Mobile authentication

Here are five reasons we believe the Go Mobile trend is here to stay.

1.     Security

Mobile devices such as smartphones have built-in security features that can enhance overall security for user authentication and authorization. First, most people always have their cell phones on them and are highly aware of the location of their devices at all times—so phones are less likely to be lost or loaned out than an ID card. If an ID card is dropped or stolen, anyone can use it to access the buildings or systems it unlocks (unless a multifactor security system is in place, such as a biometric screen or keypad). Since people may not be aware immediately that they have lost a card (unlike a phone), this leaves a window of opportunity before the card is deactivated. With a smartphone, multifactor security is built right in. Modern smartphones are nearly all equipped with biometric capabilities, such as fingerprint or facial recognition. Alternatively, they can be set with a password or PIN that must be entered to unlock the phone. That means that even if the phone is lost or stolen, no one else will be able to unlock the phone to access the mobile credentialing app.

2.     Existing Infrastructure

A smartphone-based credentialing and user authentication system can piggyback on infrastructure and hardware that already exists. Once the app is loaded onto the smartphone, it can communicate with backend systems for authentication and authorization via infrastructure supported by the wireless carrier (e.g., GSM/GPRS, LTE, 5G). That means there is no additional hardware or software needed by the application developer or the organization to support communication between the phone and the user management system. Most smartphones are already equipped with NFC and/or BLE technologies, which can be used to communicate with a reader for physical access control applications (e.g., doors, turnstiles, EV charging stations, lockers, etc.). If a multi-technology reader that supports NFC/BLE functionality is already in place, such as the ELATEC TWN4 multi-technology reader, no additional new hardware will be needed to support the move from cards to smartphone authentication.

3.     Ease of Deployment

Deployment of a smartphone-based user authentication and authorization system is simple! There are no cards to issue, and most of the work is done by the end user. Users download the app onto their phones and complete the sign-up process independently. User credentials are distributed and managed online and in real-time. The IT group can make changes via a centralized database, and these changes are implemented instantly, so it is easy to add a new employee or member, change access levels, or remove authorization at any time with minimal effort.

4.     Operating Costs

Operating costs for mobile credentialing systems are lower, too. With fewer (or no) physical cards to issue, organizations save costs for card media and printing equipment, mailing and distribution, and replacement of lost cards. The ease of deployment and management also saves time for the IT department, generating more cost savings.

5.     User Convenience

Perhaps the biggest reason to Go Mobile is user convenience. Smartphones are here to stay, with more than 5.32 billion unique users globally and 95% of Gen Z on board. Most of us are already accustomed to grabbing our phones for applications including mobile payment, e-ticketing and registering loyalty points. Leveraging our phones for access to buildings and secure locations, single sign-on (SSO) to business systems, secure printing, smart lockers and other applications is simply a natural extension of the kinds of things we are already doing on our phones. Most users also appreciate the convenience of having everything they need right on their phones instead of carrying around a wallet full of physical cards for different applications and programs. Phones are less likely to be forgotten and are always at hand when they are needed.

Are You Ready to Go Mobile?

Smartphone authentication is the future of access control. Moving to mobile access technologies can be an integral part of an organization’s digital transformation strategy. Perhaps that’s why organizations who are leading on measures of Digital Maturity are more likely to have adopted mobile credentialing systems. In fact, a scientific study has shown a significant positive relationship between adoption of mobile credentials and other measures of Digital Maturity, suggesting that mobile credentialing could be a key driver of successful digital transformation.

Not sure where to start? Flexible, future-proof readers make integrating mobile credentials into your ID management solution smooth and easy. Our mobile technology experts can help you evaluate your current state and develop a strategic plan for your move to mobile. Contact us to get started!