The Pros and Cons of Access Control Credentials
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The Pros and Cons of the Latest Access Control Credentials

 8th Nov 2018


There’s a lot of buzz about using mobile devices for secure access control credentials at the moment – but how does this compare to alternative technologies on the market? Biometrics and card-based alternatives have been available for a number of years, but the age of the technology isn’t necessarily a good indication of the respective benefits or pitfalls.


It’s all about deciding the best solution for your needs and budget – here are the key pros and cons of the options:

Mobile Credentials

Generally speaking, people very rarely lose their phones – and if they do and the credential is lost, it’s much easier to cancel it and maintain security. It’s also much easier to upload a replacement credential on a new device if this happens.


Pros - Overall, the management of credentials is much easier as it’s done remotely. The teams that administer a mobile phone-based credential system will spend less time auditing cards and more time monitoring the interactions with the access control and security systems, assessing behaviours and data.


Cons - The major Con for mobile credentials is that you can’t use traditional readers. Any organisation that wants to offer secure access via a mobile phone credential will need to change its existing readers and replace them with a Bluetooth enabled reader. Having said that, in many cases, the new reader will still work with the existing card-based credential as well as the controllers and software etc (which is certainly the case with TDSi systems). However, there is still a cost associated with the upgrade of the reader.

Access Cards

Access cards have been a popular credential option for many years. Most of us have used this technology at some point and it continues to be popular worldwide.


Pros – This option offers considerable value for money. The cards and readers are relatively cheap to buy and install and for many applications they offer just the right level of reliability and flexibility, with plenty of functionality to use them for other secure transactions such as cashless vending. 


Cons – Cards can be mislaid or lost quite easily. You are far more likely to lose one than say a mobile phone. Recently, older card technology has also become a target for hackers using cloning technology to break encryption codes, however, newer MIFARE Plus and DESfire cards have helped to redress this issue significantly.


Both mobile phones and cards offer an authentication technology, ensuring the credential is valid and that it’s that credential that is going through the door. However, it doesn’t prove that that person is actually who they say they are – which is where biometrics come in.


Pros - Biometrics are an authentication and identification mechanism. They are more expensive, but they are also a lot more secure. The likelihood of you losing your finger or your face is (thankfully) quite slim compared to losing a mobile phone or card!


Cons - The major con with a biometric system is the cost of the readers. Those costs have come down considerably over the last 10 years, but it is still a consideration. Equally, not all people can use biometric systems. Take a fingerprint reader for example – if you are handling chemicals or performing rough work with your hands, your unique fingerprint pattern can degrade. In these instances, a contactless reader such as facial recognition would be a good alternative.

Making the Choice

For most security customers, the choice comes down to the level of security you want and how much you want to pay! This will fundamentally take you down the best credential technology route for your needs and will dictate what options are available.


It really is ‘horses for courses’ and the choice of technology will need to take a lot of factors into consideration. TDSi continues to offer a wide variety of choices because we know that customers need the solution that best suits their needs and budget.


With the wealth of integrated and complementary systems available, anyone can find the perfect solution for their needs and their wallet!


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