Kisi enables NFC cards, including public transportation and credit cards

By Bernhard Mehl
January 25, 2019

Kisi is excited to announce our newest feature—an integration with third-party NFC cards. Kisi, the leader in cloud and mobile access control, has integrated all types of NFC cards including, but not limited to, public transit NFC cards and contactless bank or credit cards. We released a new flow on the Android version of the mobile app that allows the administrator of a Kisi location to enroll an NFC access card token for a user onto their phone to unlock a door connected with Kisi.

Kisi maintains a mobile-first philosophy, but as a backup to our secure Tap-to-Unlock functionality, we have extended our range of accepted credentials to encompass legacy NFC cards. Kisi users often already have NFC cards for a variety of purposes— be they transit cards, bank cards, building access cards, or even HID fobs for NFC readers. Many organizations have been upgrading their infrastructure and utilizing NFC technology for a variety of purposes. Notable examples include new contactless payment American Express cards, and transit cards like San Francisco’s Clipper card, or London’s Oyster card. New WeWork cards, that are NFC-based, will also work with this integration, as these institutions are issuing NFC cards to replace old hunks of plastic. Thus, to streamline the Kisi experience for our clients and to avoid more plastic in your wallet, we have enabled users to enroll their existing NFC cards to unlock Kisi-equipped doors.

Additionally, we’ve noticed that many Kisi-equipped companies are geographically dispersed, operating out of multiple locations, and employees have a tendency to travel between them on a frequent basis. If the employee in question doesn’t use the mobile tap-to-unlock feature, it would be a hassle to require them to pick up a new ID card, on top of incurring a needless cost for the company. Thus, it makes sense to allow a  traveling employee to enroll their existing NFC cards, be they a transit card, or a bank card, or even an existing Kisi card, to unlock a new location—especially since many businesses are operating out of different work environments, including coworking spaces. Being fast to collaborate in an easy yet controllable way is key. That’s why Kisi is the first physical security company to reshape on-demand facility use. A small first step is enabling 112 public transportation cards globally and 52 wireless credit cards, and counting, to be enrolled as a valid backup access credential.

There may be, understandably, some security concerns that arise. In response to these, Kisi would like to affirm that we will not, and are not able to, read any information from these cards other than their unique NFC token. Contactless bank cards, and other cards that carry sensitive information, are encrypted and Kisi readers are unable to read this information. Thus, activating your NFC card to work with Kisi will make it no less secure than it was to begin with—it will not affect your information. In terms of your building’s security, the implications of using an NFC card to unlock are no different than using a building access card for your own office; however, if a truly secure solution is needed Kisi still recommends its own Kisi Passes. Finding the balance between flexibility and security is something a Kisi specialist would love to help you out with. Please feel free to get in touch with us.

For more information, check out our dedicated integration page here!

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Phone-based systems are not just a small-business solution. CEO of Kisi, Bernhard Mehl, comments: “If you see the average of three doors connected then that might seem low but, in reality, one door relates to around 50 employees—so those are locations with about 150 people on average, including satellite offices. That’s quite significant.”

Mobile Access Control Adoption by Industry

Kisi examined which industries are investing the most in mobile access control technology. To do so, the average size of mobile access control installation projects by industry were measured. Commercial real estate topped the list with 23.5 doors running mobile access per facility. Education management came in last with 1.0 door running mobile access per facility. 

Physical Security Statistics: Mobile Access by Industry


The number of shooting incidents at K-12 schools, according to the CHDS, reached an all-time high at 97 incidents in 2018—compared to 44 in 2017. Cloud-based access control companies, like Kisi, offer a lockdown feature for active shooter situations or emergencies, making it an effective protective layer for places that are targeted, such as religious institutions, which come in near the top of the list with 4.0 doors running mobile access per facility. 

Based on industry size, it makes sense that commercial real estate tops the list, with 23.5 doors running mobile access per facility. Cloud-based access control enables these larger organizations to scale more seamlessly and allows large organizations, like telecommunications, to deploy the most manageable IT solutions available, eliminating the need to create and manage a business’s own IT infrastructure over time.

“Commercial real estate is, of course, the driver of mobile adoption since they have the largest buildings,” Mehl adds. “The key here is to show that mobile-first technologies are not a risk but an innovation that brings positive ROI and allows agencies to reposition their buildings as forward-thinking establishments.”

The scalabelilty and ease of use in onboarding an organization allows many different types of industries and businesses of different sizes to adapt a cloud-based access control system, either using keycard or mobile credentials for access. 


Mobile Access Control by State

Looking specifically at the United States, Kisi analyzed in which states companies are investing the most into upgrading to smartphone-enabled access systems. Of the currently installed base of access control readers, around 20 percent will be mobile capable by 2022, according to a recent IHS report. Cloud-based systems, like Kisi, are future-proof—allowing over-the-air updates in real time and unlimited scalability for users.


“Mobile unlock technology makes you think of the major tech hubs like New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles,” Mehl adds. “Looking at which states have the largest projects, it’s surprising and refreshing that those are not the typical ‘tech cities, and yet that’s where access control technology really makes an impact.” The fact that the largest projects are seen in states outside of the typical tech startup landscape is evidence that mobile access control is highly applicable across industry sectors.


For further questions about this study, reach out to Kait Hobson (kait@getkisi.com)

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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