Mobile Credentials in 2023

June 10, 2023
Smartphones and new technology opening new doors

Generally speaking, your smartphone becomes a mobile credential when it is used as an electronic key, transports lock or key data, or updates standalone locks. In this article we’ll review recent developments, distribution channels and how they affect your pricing and access to various markets. Remember, the marketing triad of quality, price and availability still drives buying decisions.

Bluetooth or NFC?

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Near Field Communication (NFC) are the two current mobile credentials technologies.  (Mobile Credentials Make The Connection, Locksmith Ledger April 2022,  NFC may already be in place in some educational institutions for student and retail purchases. The NFC protocol transmits 424 Kbits/second, usually after a tap on the terminal or reader. 

BLE is currently the mobile credential favorite, transmitting about five times faster on the 2.4 GHz frequency, with range adjustable from 2 to 15 feet.  New readers (on the wall or in the lock) increasingly accept BLE, NFC, RFID chips, and sometimes Prox cards as well. Older units may need to be upgraded when adding mobile credentials.

Wi-Fi and Wireless

Wireless may be 802.11xx high-speed Wi-Fi, or one of the variations of the 802.15.xx standards. Wi-Fi and Wireless can mean different things. Some products will run on existing 802.11xx Wi-Fi networks, while others may require one of the many 802.15.xx protocols

Communication to the PACS Controller is most often hardwired, Ethernet, or Wireless. Some can use the Mobile Credential to transfer data via Wireless hub or cell tower. Most current smart locks accept multiple credential technologies.

PACS controllers may be cloud-based virtual controllers, or actual physical computers.


Nearly all North American access control manufacturers offer mobile credential options, including Allegion, ASSA ABLOY, dormakaba, Salto Systems, Proxess and many smaller companies. Not all mobile credential readers are on doors;

several brands offer padlocks operated by mobile credentials. NOKE is a Utah company with an obvious background in the website and mobile app business. They’ve added mobile credentials to padlocks and locking systems for the trucking and transportation industry.

The lock industry has generally adopted the following protocols. Locks or readers can be ordered or upgraded to communicate to the PACS controller over wireless, Ethernet, or hardwired transmission routes. Lock power can come from batteries, Ethernet (PoE), or local power supply. Mobile credentials themselves can sometimes become the network connection to the Cloud via cell towers, or to internal wireless hot spots. Here is a brief update on industry offerings:

Allegion commercial products operated by Mobile Credentials include Schlage NDE cylindrical and LE mortise locks as well as readers that operate electric strikes, elevators, VonDuprin, or other exit devices.

The Schlage Control Smart Lock is a battery operated deadbolt, designed for residential or multi-family housing applications. ENGAGE is the cloud-based virtual PACS Controller designed to handle entry level through large system applications.

Allegion has also recently announced the Zentra brand to integrate software, hardware, and support packages for mid-to-large multi-tenant properties. Larger multi-family or campus housing projects are generally sold and installed by “Proptech” companies that specialize in this market. These supply and property management companies can actually be a market opportunity for the lock shop, as they often need local installation and ongoing service work.

An informative 183-page Engage software training manual is available online, while installer training and certification is available from Allegion. 

ASSA ABLOY has standardized Aperio products globally across many of its brands. The locks support multiple credential technologies including HID multiCLASS SE and mobile access via NFC and/or BLE. In North America, the Aperio product range includes offerings from ASSA ABLOY Group brands Adams Rite, Corbin Russwin, HES, SARGENT and Securitron.

Aperio products use IEEE 802.15.4 wireless communication with nearby hubs that connect to third-party PACS head ends. Corbin Russwin and SARGENT IN100 locks are IP-enabled Power over Ethernet (PoE), with the option of using existing Ethernet cabling for both power and data.

Wireless locks or readers provide complete access control in locations where it would be difficult or cost-prohibitive to install a wired lock. The DR100 Aperio wireless card reader is a new product that provides output relays to activate electrified hardware, including electric strikes, exit devices, overhead doors, roof access, or loading docks. 

ASSA ABLOY electronic access control locks work with Access Control Partner PACS software, allowing integration into existing or new systems. Hands-on training for security systems integrators and network administrators is provided through ASSA ABLOY’s Certified Integrator Program.

Yale is another ASSA ABLOY company targeting residential markets with the Assure Lock touchscreen or keypad system. Commercial and multi-family housing markets are served by the nexTouch wireless system. This data-on-card system pairs with Yale Accentra software for use with mobile credentials, key cards or fobs. The nexTouch line includes Grade 1 cylindrical, mortise, and exit devices.  Keypad, card, fob, or Mobile Credential operation is available.

Best Switch Core

LOCKT\ is a software and service company that provides customers with their own cloud-based virtual PACS controller for Best Switch Core systems. The battery-operated Switch Core is now available through lock wholesale distributors that carry Best and dormakaba. Wireless is optional but not required. 

The Switch Core is also available with leading PACS systems, and can be connected to existing installations with Best-provided Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The SFIC Switch Core has turned out to be a robust and inexpensive way to bring electronic access control and accountability to the 100-million doors with SFIC housings. The big deal is very low cost.

dormakaba is a major player in commercial markets. North American brands include Best, Dorma, Farpointe, Keyscan, Precision, RCI, Safelock and Simplex. Most product lines are now available through your normal wholesale lock suppliers.

A completely new commercial line of Saffire EVO mobile, multi-tech, and Wi-Fi-ready locks are now available in mortise, cylindrical, interconnect, deadbolt, and exit device applications.[1] The ANSI Grade II line targets multi-family, residential, commercial, and hotel markets. EVO is a battery powered lock designed to work with major PACS controller systems.

The company’s Luna software for small-medium systems is available at no charge. The Aurora software is designed for medium to enterprise level systems. The Confidant kit retrofits most existing locks, including tubular. The 790 series provides industrial duty Grade 1 hardware.

Salto is a Spanish company with Atlanta-based North American operations. The company is reported to be in the top three manufacturers of electronic access controls with more than 5 million doors controlled worldwide. The XS4 product line is operated by BLE/NFC Mobile Credentials as well as RFID (MIFARE DESFire and HID iCLASS Seos).

XS4 products for North America include cylindrical, mortise, padlocks, exit devices, wall readers, and the universal escutcheon. The XS4 Geo mortise and rim cylinders as well as locker applications are also available.

The XS4 system is designed around hospitality and multi-family market needs. The system also works well in many commercial settings. Locks are operated by RFID cards, fobs, or mobile apps. With the mobile app installed, credentials can be remotely downloaded to the smart phone, and RFID cards can be updated from an NFC connection on the phone as well. Salto products are now available from many lock wholesale sources.


Lock manufacturers currently have four major commercial distribution channels. These include: Wholesale lock trade, contract hardware dealers, PACS systems software providers, and Lodging-multi-family housing specialists. Of course, residential products operated by mobile credential apps proliferate on the internet and in big box stores.

The wholesale lock trade is our traditional supply source with many mobile credential products beginning to show up on the shelves. However, since Mobile Credentials require apps, and may also need cloud or Wi-Fi connections, the set-up may be challenging for some. Wholesale specialists like LOCKT and GoKeyless have emerged with mobile credential specialists to help with training and set-up. Many of your existing lock distributors are also developing in-house expertise.

Contract Hardware Dealers in your area can be another supply source. Many have taken factory training and are certified with specific Mobile Credential brands. These dealers can often provide good partner opportunities.

PACS Software suppliers like Lenel, Genetech, Honeywell, Keri, Johnson Controls, DSX, Galaxy, and Software House generally sell to integrators who target larger systems. These PACS software OEMs may include readers and credentials with their systems. In many cases their business model counts on providing the hardware, recurring fees, user upgrades, and sometimes substantial mark-ups on hardware. Security As A Service (SAAS) is currently a popular recurring revenue source for many.

Lodging Integration Partners focus on the hotel, condo, and apartment market. These companies provide PACS systems in new and retrofit projects. This is a completely different market with dozens of players you’ve probably never heard of. They are specialists that seldom cross paths with the lock trade, but may be a market for your own installation team.

Your best pricing is likely to come from traditional wholesale lock suppliers or from local contract hardware dealers. Ask about training and support.

Be prepared. Installer training and certification is available from all of these suppliers. A smart move is to take advantage of the training before recommending solutions.

Cameron Sharpe, CPP, worked 30-years in the commercial lock and PACS industry. [email protected]