Will Coronavirus Make Mobile Access Control the Future?

Research shows 41% of office workers would rather use mobile watches or smart phones instead of access control keycards or fobs.

Will Coronavirus Make Mobile Access Control the Future?

It looks like the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic might spark a long-term shift in commercial and residential access control away from individual keycards to mobile devices.

That’s the data coming from a new study by Nexkey, an access control manufacturer, that surveyed 1,264 office workers nationwide in its 2020 Access Control Trends Review about their usage and preferences in access control. While the data is focused on commercial access control applications, the same conclusions can be drawn for residential condo and apartment complexes that might use similar access control technology.

Among the highlights found in the survey are:

  • 41% of office workers use keycards to enter their office. Yet the same amount of people said smartphones or smartwatches would be their first-choice credential.
  • 44% believe access control is more important after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 3 out of 4 people use keys, keycards or fobs. 41% had these keys, keycards, and fobs lost or stolen while 34% let someone borrow them.
  • 75% want additional doors on their access control platforms but don’t, 1 out of 4 people saying the biggest reason is cost.

Growing Priority of Access Control

This year, there has been an abrupt shift to remote workplaces due to COVID-19. According to the study, 44% believe access control is more important after COVID-19. Meanwhile, 67% prioritize security over convenience now when it comes to choosing an access control system.

Also, 74% use keycards, fobs and metal keys — 41% lost or had them stolen while 34% admit to letting someone borrow them to enter their workplace. You’re less likely to let someone borrow a phone, and if your phone was lost or stolen, it is most likely protected with a pin or biometrics. Mobile access control also has the advantage of touchless entry which helps which reduces contact between employees, according to Nexkey.

The vast majority of American office workers, 98%, have a smartphone. According to an Inc. magazine article, Internet Trends’ research shows that the average smartphone user unlocks their smartphone 150 times a day. Yet, only 5% use a smartphone to unlock the doors to their workplace. 

Currently, only 5% of access control is done via mobile device.

Keycards are the most common access control credential seen in the field with 41% using a keycard/badge as the main credential to unlock the building. People want to shift to mobile access control. The first choice among respondents to use as an entry device, at 41%, is a mobile or smartwatch over keycards, fobs, pin code, or metal keys.

Also, 67% of office managers are interested or very interested in managing access to the building with their smartphones. The demand for mobile is there, yet it isn’t reflected in new technology that emerges in the industry. 

Why Hasn’t Mobile Access Control Taken Off Already?

If mobile access control is gaining momentum as a desired and secure platform, why hasn’t it gone viral? Most smaller businesses are limited to only a few doors with access control. At businesses with 51 to 250 people, 84% of them have fewer than 4 doors with access control and the same number, 84% of them want to add additional doors to their platforms.

One of the biggest reasons why people held back was cost. Moreover, 75% of all respondents would only pay up to $1,000 for an access control system, which is very rare in the industry due to the amount of hardware components and complex installation that is needed. 

Interest is somewhat strong to shift to mobile devices for access control entry.

Traditional access control that zeroes in on key card and fob technology remains incompatible with most doors, insecure, and expensive which leaves it out of reach for most small to medium sized businesses. “Players in the access control industry are severely underestimating the potential of the SMB market,” says Eric Trabold, CEO of Nexkey. “They are missing out on a $10B industry where their products just don’t make the cut.”

All signs point to mobile access control being the future of the access control industry, according to Nexkey. According to a study by HID in 2019, 54% have upgraded or will upgrade to mobile access control in the next three years. Not only is it the most desired, but the latest technology in mobile access control fits within the security and price points that are important to businesses today.

Nexkey believes its platform will be the catalyst for this shift to mobile. After COVID-19, access control systems will need to be more secure at a decent price point, and technology providers will have to shift to mobile to meet user’s needs. The smartphone will be our key throughout our day — from our home, to the office, gym, community center, school and even to the local laundromat.