Smartphones have become an integral part of our everyday lives, serving as a critical communication tool beyond text messaging and phone calls. They have replaced paper versions of daily planners and address books with mobile applications that now support digital wallets, food delivery services and banking.

In fact, many people today would admit to feeling lost without a smartphone and the functionality it provides. These smart devices have migrated from that of a personal device to a must-have business resource by delivering applications that can enhance productivity.

With this knowledge, it’s unsurprising the direct impact smart devices have had on the security industry and market technologies. Specifically, there has been overwhelming growth in the development and adoption of mobile credentialing technology.

The reason is fairly simple: Security solutions providers and businesses alike are looking to harness the versatility that smartphones have to offer. As a result, many have begun to replace plastic, smart card badges with mobile credentialing capabilities to offer both a secure and cost-effective solution.

Here are a few reasons why now is an ideal time to incorporate mobile credentials into your access control platform.

Mobile credentials are secure

With any access control system, it’s important to make sure the proper measures are in place to ensure the system and process are fully secure. Badges and pins can easily be shared between employees to unlock a door, making it difficult to safeguard against unapproved access or fully track who comes and goes on a particular day and time.

Mobile credentialing can be more secure than badges and pins. It may include multi-factor authentication capabilities incorporated into smartphones to enhance security. Mobile credentialing can leverage technologies such as passcodes and biometrics, including facial recognition, fingerprint and iris scanning, to unlock a controlled asset like doors or safe boxes.

In addition, each smartphone holds a secure element designed to protect access to cryptographic data, including a trusted identification (ID) number, which makes it more difficult to replicate. With Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Near Field Communication (NFC), security professionals can ensure that the mobile credential holder is physically next to the controlled asset for additional security.

Mobile credentials are convenient

Unlike a plastic credential or key, a mobile credential is less likely to get lost or be misplaced or used by an unauthorized person. Like a set of house keys, most people do not leave their home or apartment without their smartphone in hand.

Downloading a mobile credential application or using existing mobile wallets is also an easy process and requires minimal setup from the user, with access permissions pre-determined as part of the management of mobile credential holders. Like a plastic badge, mobile credential holders can be managed from a central point, with access privileges granted or revoked from virtually any location and at any time.

Mobile credentials save time and money

By eliminating ID badges, businesses can save time and money by having employees and visitors use their smartphones as their credentials. Managing access cards can become expensive, especially when taking into account the cost of badge printing, which includes purchasing blank cards, specialized badge printers and ink. Another factor to consider is a current badge shortage in the industry due to the lack of raw materials and chips. While the shortage complicates the process of badge order for end users, it also makes it more effective for businesses to implement mobile credentials.

Time and effort are required to replace broken, lost or forgotten badges, which should be taken into consideration. Badge loss requires an administrator to recreate the badge and then coordinate the delivery of that access control credential to the badge holder. Mobile credentialing, unlike a badge, can provide immediate access with minimal delays to give an individual access into a building, floor or conference room in a facility.

In specific industries, such as the hospitality or higher education market, managing badges can become expensive due to the high rate of turnover of the cardholders themselves and the frequency of lost, broken or misplaced cards.

The adoption of mobile credential technology will continue to grow in the coming years. It is important that security professionals understand the benefits this solution provides. The security industry also needs to be prepared to leverage credentialing solutions built upon mobile devices already integrated into our daily lives.

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.