Unlock your office doors with iPhone: Employee badges in Apple Wallet

Add your corporate employee badges to Apple Wallet, then just tap to unlock with your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Share this article

Read this guide to get an overview of:

  • The benefits of using iPhone and Apple Watch to unlock doors with Apple Wallet and the advantage over plastic cards
  • Market trends, including expert opinions, tenant experience data, and ESG sentiment as it relates to the adoption of Apple Wallet
  • Overview of how to add corporate badges to Apple Wallet, including deployment diagram, design, and FAQ about Apple Wallet
  • Solutions and use cases, including a certified vendor list and terminology

For more information about the Apple Wallet Access Program, please see Apple’s resources here.

Phone showing an Apple Wallet badge
Apple Access used at a turnstile in a building lobby with Kisi employee badge *coming soon

Different ways to unlock your door with iPhone

Modern access control companies offer various ways of unlocking your office doors with iPhone. For instance, Kisi users can choose between three convenient access methods to unlock Kisi-secured doors with their iPhone.

Unlocking the door with a simple tap on the right door in the Kisi app is possible even without Kisi readers installed at the door. With Tap to Unlock, users simply tap their iPhone against the Kisi Reader Pro to unlock.

For a completely contactless experience, users keep their iPhone in the bag or pocket and unlock with a hand wave in front of the Kisi Reader Pro, thanks to Kisi’s MotionSense technology.

Employee badges in Apple Wallet are a fairly new upgrade in the access control world. Read on to find out how they work and why they will become an access control must-have.

Here is an overview of credentials Kisi currently provides:

Branded Kisi image showing Kisi access methods
Access credentials from RFID to NFC and Bluetooth. Learn more about all the ways to unlock the door with Kisi

Apple Wallet for access control

Benefits of using Wallet to unlock doors

Apple Wallet offers an experience upgrade that mobile users have been looking for. It also improves safety and security as well as operational efficiency for admins. Here are 10 advantages of using Apple Wallet for corporate access cards:

User experience

1. Get in faster with your iPhone. With Express Mode, you don’t need to wake or unlock your iPhone or Apple Watch to use your access control badge in Apple Wallet.

Phone showing NFC Tag Reader
Native iOS NFC support for access control improves access control security and performance

2. Your employee badge. Now with less badge. With your employee badge in Apple Wallet on your iPhone or Apple Watch, you can enter and leave your office without your physical keys or access cards. That’s one less thing to carry. No more downloading separate apps to unlock different doors. Similar to Airplane tickets, your access badges can co-exist in your Apple Wallet.

Image of Apple Wallet icon
One less app to download - in fact Apple Wallet doesn’t require any app to unlock the door.

3. Custom branded access badges: Apple Wallet allows for natively designed corporate badges that can be easier customized than any app.

Image of phone showing Kisi access pass in Apple Wallet
Beautiful corporate badges added to Apple Wallet provide a simple to deploy, branded user experience *coming soon

4. Get in faster with your Apple Watch. Allows you to leave the phone in your pocket and unlock the door in a second with your Apple Watch. Apple Wallet syncs keys across your devices with the same iCloud accounts so you don’t have to download them twice.

Kisi branded image showing Apple Watch access with iCloud
Use your watch to just tap, unlock and enter. This provides one of the most user friendly ways to enter a space. *coming soon

Safety and security

1. Get into your building, even when your iPhone needs a charge. If your iPhone battery has run out, your badge in Apple Wallet will still work. Power Reserve provides up to five hours of access, so you can still get inside. (source)

Image of iPhone in power save mode
Ability to access emergency backup battery, even when the phone is practically out of battery and will not turn on.

2. Suspend access privileges. If a user misplaces their iPhone or Apple Watch, they can use the Find My app to lock and help locate their device and suspend their key or remotely erase the device and its keys.

Image of Find My app icon

Lost Apple Watch or iPhone? No need to access the access management system or - app or even call your administrator. Simply go to your Find My app and remove the credential from the device remotely.

3. Badge security, built into iPhone. Employee Badges in Apple Wallet take full advantage of the privacy and security features built into iPhone and Apple Watch. They are stored on the device, which means Apple doesn’t see the places your employees or tenants access, so data is private and secure.

Image with Apple Platform Security logo
Being able to natively leverage Face ID and Touch ID for 2FA unlocks is beneficial for higher security applications.

4. Advanced security with biometrics. Additionally, card readers can use Face ID or Touch ID on iPhone to provide additional security for spaces that require it made possible with terminal requested authentication (TRA).

Image with biometric icons for face recognition
There is no safer way than storing access credentials on Apple’s native secure element.

Operational efficiency

  1. Streamlined distribution and sustainability. Forget the hassle of printing physical keys for your employees or tenants. With corporate badges in Apple Wallet on iPhone and Apple Watch, you can streamline key distribution and management across your entire portfolio of real estate.
  2. Distribute cards remotely in just a few simple steps
  3. Deliver and store employee badges directly in Apple Wallet on an individual’s iPhone
  4. Onboard with ease. NFC badge readers supporting cards in Apple Wallet on iPhone and Apple Watch seamlessly integrate into your company’s existing access control systems, and they are easily managed by your internal staff. So getting started is quick and efficient.

Save Time. Enhance Security.

Modernize your access control with remote management and useful integrations.

Badges in iPhone. Fewer plastic cards.

When your staff or tenants use their iPhone or Apple Watch to get access, it means fewer plastic cards need to be printed—saving money and reducing the use of plastic. But there is more. We summarized the reasons of benefits Apple Wallet has over physical cards in three categories: user experience, operational efficiency, and increased security:

User Experience

Operational efficiency

Increased security

  • Gesture and ergonomic unlock motions
  • Longer range for easier access
  • Can’t forget or lose cards
  • Remote provisioning without the need to hand over a physical key card
  • “Free” distribution of virtual access badges - no shipping cost
  • Plastic waste reduction to contribute to ESG goals
  • Allow self-service onboarding by the end user
  • Cloud-based, centralized credential management
  • End users typically don’t lose their phone as often as their access card
  • If a device goes missing, end users are eager to report it
  • Credentials can be revoked remotely
  • Enhanced security for two-factor authentication via biometrics (Face ID or Touch ID) or passcode
Benefits of moving badges into iPhone: User experience, operational efficiency and increased security.

Market trends

Mobile access technology has been around for a while. Why is now the time for it? As we’ve outlined, Apple Wallet brings new benefits to access control, but is the market ready yet? We’ve asked experts, analyzed our own users’ behavior and willingness to adopt mobile technology, and looked at market studies around proptech investments and ESG sentiment.

Expert opinions

We’ve asked a few of our partners and clients about their opinion of using Apple Wallet for access control - from access control experts, to integrators, property managers, coworking leaders and workplace platforms - the consensus seems to be that Apple Access is where the future of access control is headed:

The Apple Wallet experience reigns supreme, easily understandable even for those unacquainted with emerging technologies. Within commercial real estate, the aspiration is to harness Apple Wallet's potential beyond locking and unlocking or being a card in your phone. Integrating features that enhance operational efficiencies, such as streamlining workflows and generating revenue through payment integration, aims to establish a ubiquitous hospitality-like encounter in every workspace, residence, and destination. Inevitably, Apple Wallet will evolve into a universal tool for all. Hence, why not embark on embracing its benefits today?

Lee Odess, the independent go-to voice for the access control and smart lock industry and CEO of the Access Control Executive Brief

A guiding principle that I hold closely within the realm of real estate technology is the imperative need for us, as developers and operators, to engage tenants on their terms. By gaining a deep understanding of their interaction patterns and technological usage, we can deliver solutions that naturally align with their expectations, effectively shaping the industry's future trajectory.
Apple Wallet represents a paradigm shift, one that propels this ethos further into the forefront of our industry. Tenants now expect the ability to access everything at the click of a button. Credit Card. Transit Fare. Rewards Programs. And now, the key to their apartment. Apple Wallet marks the most significant step in the modernization of access control in the real estate sector in decades.
By incorporating our operations into platforms already used by our residents, we're paving the way for a future where real estate and technology are intrinsically linked. It's an exciting time, indeed.

Mark Zikra, CTO, Property Connect Advisors

Every new tenant signing a lease now requires mobile access - it’s just the easiest way to do it

Commercial Landlord

It will come at one point - it’s the future because it’s Apple.

Access Control Integrator, NYC

Anything that removes barriers to entry is a win for the industry. People want seamless experiences and for everything to just work, Apple is known for that.

Liz Elam, Founder GCUC & Coworking Leader

The coworking and flexible office industries have a huge opportunity to embrace the shift towards hybrid workplaces and embrace the millions of knowledge workers who no longer have access to a company leased office space. But there needs to be a fundamental shift in experience for these customers. In most cases these hybrid customers are not signing up for a membership and going through your well designed member onboarding process. You may never meet them until they book their first day-pass or meeting room, they may come in sporadically, whether booking a day pass once a week or meeting rooms ad-hoc to gather with colleagues. Technology needs to aid coworking operators to provide a delightful experience to hybrid workers as that is key to word of mouth adoption to their colleagues to also book and rebook at your space. This will be enabled by deep integrations into your technology stack with a seamless ‘Guest Access Card’ delivered digitally just in time to provide a delightful experience to your guests, as well as to your community managers. Customers want their experience to be seamless, leveraging native technologies built into smartphones remove friction in the process and allow for time-based reminders to provide reservation confirmation at check-in, but can also provide WiFi credentials, and keyless access when integrated to your access control system. The future is bright for coworking. We as operators and vendors need to step up our game to deliver an amazing experience to meet this opportunity.

Eric Zellhart VP Product, LiquidSpace

Image with quote from Lee Odess on the Apple Wallet experience
*Kisi employee badge in Apple Wallet coming soon

User behavior

At Kisi, we have offered Bluetooth-enabled tap and wave to unlock since 2013. When comparing phone unlocks to card unlocks, 76% of unlocks happen through a mobile experience. This number excludes manual in-app unlocks where users have to press a button in an App. It means that 76% of users are ready to create an account, install an App, enable Bluetooth, give location permission, and so on, to have an amazing access experience. Notably 81% of the mobile unlocks happen on iOS. If users were presented with something easier, faster, and more reliable than the current technology, they would use it.

Image with pie charts showing Unlocks with Bluetooth/NFC vs. regular cards, and Percentage of users using Apple iOS to unlock via mobile

When comparing mobile based unlock methods used per operating system, it breaks down as follows:

iOS phone based unlock method by type:

  • 47% using tap to unlock
  • 45.5% using in-app unlock
  • 7.5% using motion sense

Android phone based unlock method by type:

  • 32.8% using tap to unlock
  • 66.7% using in-app unlock
  • 0.5% using motion sense
Image with two pie charts showing access method by type on iOS and Android

Tenant experience

Tenant experience investments are needed to motivate work-from-home employees to return to the office. 75% of real estate companies are looking to at least maintain or increase their technology investments, of which tenant experience is part of.

Chart from Deloitte Center for Financial Services 2023 showing expected changes to technology budgets
The percentage of respondents answered to increase, keep the same, or decrease real estate technology spending in 2023 by geography.

Today, hybrid work is still keeping offices a little less than half occupied (~44%) in top US markets putting pressure on operators and owners to provide top-of-the-line office space as a tradeoff for departing the comforts of work-from-home. This leads to office owners and investors more often having to consider upgrading existing properties so they won’t have to lease them at a discounted rate.

Source (2023)

ESG data

79% in 2023, up from 59% in 2021, of real estate owners and investors believe the world is at a “tipping point” environmentally. Pre-empting new regulations will lead buildings to require:

  • Less waste: From plastic keycards to energy waste in un-occupied areas

Better data: More granular occupancy data derived from access control systems will feed into other systems, such as HVAC and lighting, as an input control data point.

Source (2023)

Chart with responses around when respondents with incorporate ESG data and analytics into investment strategy
The percentage of respondents answered to incorporate ESG data and analytics into their investment strategy within a year, over the next two years, or over the next three years by assets under management (AUM).

Adding your employee badge is easy

Once your badge has been added to Apple Wallet, you can unlock your door by holding your iPhone or Apple Watch near the reader. You don’t even need to wake or unlock your device. It’s that simple.

To understand how this works on the backend, we’ll first take a look at the typical access control adjustments you need to do to offer Apple Wallet to your tenants or staff, then explain how corporate badges are added to your phone. Afterward, we’ll discuss how custom employee badges are designed and give an FAQ of the most frequently asked questions about Apple Wallet and employee badges on iPhone.

How is Apple Access most commonly deployed at a building using Kisi?

With your current system, you typically need to replace the card reader with an NFC compatible, Apple certified model. This will allow the pass-through of existing keycard swipes to your current system while being able to also read Apple Wallet badges.

Image showing Kisi access card opening office turnstile
Corporate Kisi employee badge used to unlock turnstile via Apple Access *coming soon

Creating a street-to-seat journey

In order for a user to have the best experience without a plastic access card, we need to consider not only what happens at the tenant space but the spaces in the pathway to get there (i.e., amenities, front door, bike room).

Typically a building operator should consider 3 main access levels:

  1. Building Entrance: How can different tenants access the building with the same type of credential that also works for their tenant suite? With Kisi’s mobile credentials you can harmonize different access systems on the backend to make it easy for the end user - no need to carry different cards.
  2. Elevator or turnstile access - how can those be enabled so it’s a seamless access experience? Kisi integrates with elevators and turnstiles alike.
  3. Tenant suite access: How can the tenant choose their own system and still use the credential for the building and elevator or turnstile? With Kisi, tenants can deploy Kisi as their standalone system and still leverage the Kisi credential - easily integrated with the base building system via versatile deployment options.

How does this work? This is what we’ll cover in the next chapter: deployment architecture.

Kisi branded diagram showing access points in an office building
Street-to-seat journey from building entrance through turnstile and elevator to tenant suite access.

Access control deployment architecture

When buildings deploy cloud based access control, they typically have two choices:

  1. Cloud access control with existing readers
  2. Apple Wallet enabled readers with existing access system

Let’s take a look at the first option.

Cloud access control with existing readers

A regular building setup is to overlay the existing legacy access control panel with the Kisi Controller Pro to enable cloud managed card access via the existing reader.

Kisi branded image of deployment architecture
Deployment architecture of access control with existing access control panel.

Let’s look at the second option that would allow for the use of Apple Wallet for access control of the building.

Apple Wallet enabled readers with existing access system

Buildings typically already have access control and want to add Apple Wallet. The typical deployment scenario is pretty straightforward. Essentially, you keep running your existing system as it is today, but switch the frontend for an NFC compatible reader, then forward the card swipes from existing badges through that new reader to the old system and leverage Apple Wallet to manage the mobile credentials in a credential manager like Kisi.

Kisi branded diagram of deployment architecture with Apple Wallet
Deployment architecture for access control using Apple Wallet

Mobile credential deployment architecture

Although the end-user application seems simple: “Just hold your phone to the reader” - what happens on the backend when you deploy this technology on the software side, can involve a few different parties.

Some of it happens in the cloud, and some if it happens of course at the property when a user is looking to enter the premises:

  • In the cloud a participating entity provisions Apple credential access via a credential manager like Kisi

At the property there is an Apple certified reader such as the Kisi Reader Pro installed that can read authorized Kisi badges presented through Apple Wallet to trigger the electric lock to unlock.

Kisi branded diagram showing deployment architecture in the cloud vs. on the property
Deployment architecture in the cloud vs on premises

More in detail: There are six different key elements to make Apple Wallet implementations happen, which we’ll explain in this overview:

1. In the cloud

  1. Credential managers provide an overall platform that includes a wide variety of different services. They might build an app that includes HR functionality, visitor management, employee engagement, and access credential management.
  2. However, the access control is provided by an access control vendor typically acting as the “Credential Provider”.
  3. Apple, who communicates with the credential manager to provide access badges in Apple Wallet.
Image showing Apple's cloud provisioning process
Apple’s cloud provisioning process

2. On premises you have:

  1. Apple certified readers, e.g., Kisi Reader Pro, HID or Wavelynx.
  2. Access control hardware, e.g., electric locks.
  3. The participating entity, e.g., the landlord or property management company that governs the property.
Branded image of Kisi Reader Pro
Kisi Reader Pro

3 options to deploy Apple Access with Kisi access control

There are three options to deploy Apple Access with Kisi access control:

  1. Using Kisi as standalone access system.
  2. Integrating Kisi with existing base building or corporate access system.
  3. Integrating Kisi not only with existing base building or corporate access system but also with a tenant experience, workplace experience or credential platform app.
Image with 3 deployment options for Apple Access with Kisi
3 options to deloy Apple Access with existing access control system and tenant experience app, workplace app or credential platform.

Example enterprise deployment for mobile access via Apple Wallet

In this example we see the different components of a possible enterprise level deployment using Kisi as access management platform and access automation. The following components are used:

  1. Access control system: In this case the landlord is using a Lenel S2 system that is being overlaid with Kisi. The tenant uses Kisi as access control system.
  2. Credentials: The building is commonly accessd via HID cards that are enabled for the Kisi Reader Pro. The Kisi Reader also allows to read Kisi badges added to Apple Wallet or could allow 3rd party tenant experience Apps like HqO to embed this experience natively into their App, so the end user only has to download one App and never needs to think about having a Kisi mobile app installed.
  3. Credential management: In this case Kisi is used to manage credentials on the landlord and tenant side. The existing Lenel software is still active with all connections to fire alarm, intrusion system in tact and still the system of record for any door openings or police reports required at full control of the landlord.
  4. Access automation: Kisi is tied in via API with other systems such as Okta which the tenant uses as identity & directory platform as well as Splunk which is a SIEM the tenant uses for data analysis internally. Kisi allows for hybrid access management - users can still be added by the landlord or tenant manually as well — which is required for temporary access such as visitors or service stuff including cleaners or maintenance personnel.
Image of Deployment architecture of Apple Wallet with existing building system
Deployment architecture of Apple Wallet with existing building system, tenant experience App, HID, Identity provider Okta, Data analysis tools and access credentials managed by Kisi.

Adding employee badges to Apple Wallet on iPhone or Apple Watch

To unlock the office or building with iPhone or Apple Watch, administrators can provision access for their users in Kisi’s access management software. They can convert their plastic door access badge to a corporate badge we call “Kisi Pass” that can be added to Apple Wallet to get door access. The following outlines the user process after an access credential is issued to the user, for example, by adding their email in Kisi’s access management software.

  1. The end user receives an email with a prompt to download the credential app, register and add the corporate employee badge to Apple Wallet or Apple Watch. This activates your access badge.
  2. Then you can add the badge to Apple Wallet and will not be required to keep the enrollment app to unlock doors via iPhone or Apple Watch.
  3. The user experience is seamless: Hold the phone to the Kisi door reader or other Apple certified reader, and Apple Wallet automatically selects the right credential to unlock this door. You can unlock permitted building doors, office doors, elevators, turnstiles, printers, or parking gates using their iPhone or Apple Watch.
Kisi branded image showing the steps to using Apple Access with Kisi
Access Credential provisioning leads to an employee badge being added to Apple Wallet on iPhone or Apple Watch *coming soon

Design of Apple Wallet employee badges

How to design an Apple Wallet badge?

Apple’s badge design guidelines are accessible in their developer documentation.

In fact, Apple has a native badge designer divided to allow you to upload assets for different devices:

  • Icons
  • Background images
  • Hex colors
Image showing Apple's badge design interface
Apple’s employee badge design interface
Image showing Apple's badge design interface

Apple Wallet employee badge FAQ

  1. What is an Apple Wallet, and how does it relate to my company badge?
    1. Apple Wallet is an app on iPhone and Apple Watch that securely and conveniently organizes your credit and debit cards, driver’s license or state ID, transit cards, event tickets, home or hotel keys, and more — all in one place. It’s like a mobile library for all the cards you were supposed to keep in your wallet before. Now you can add your company badge to Apple Wallet and smoothly unlock all turnstiles, elevators, or doors at your workplace just with a tap of your iPhone or Apple Watch.
  2. Why is NFC better than Bluetooth (BLE)?
    1. NFC is a very reliable technology already used for most card and phone-based credit card payments. Bluetooth, however, is used to “pair” devices like your wireless speaker to your phone, for example. It is a longer-range technology that can easily experience interference and disturbance and hasn’t been built for short-range secure experiences like payments or access.
  3. Can Apple Wallet employee badges be customized?
    1. Yes, the company can do it together with the credential provider who submits it.
  4. Can Apple Wallet badges be used across different properties and access systems with Kisi?
    1. Currently, if you use the same access system in one single account for all your properties, you will be able to use one Apple Badge for all properties. If you have a mixed deployment of different systems you’d like to keep, the end user will need to add multiple Apple Wallet badges to Apple Wallet. However, the user experience will be such that Apple Wallet automatically picks the right credential for the right NFC wall reader.
Kisi branded diagram showing cross-building access options
Apple Wallet can be used across different properties for cross-building access. This is especially beneficial for corporate employee badges who need access to multiple different buildings and don’t want to have different access apps installed.

6. What happens to expired badges?

  1. They automatically disappear from Apple Wallet or can be manually removed.

7. Is there an additional cost to deploy Apple Wallet for Access Control?

  1. The Apple Wallet service typically incurs a recurring software license cost.

8. Will Apple Wallet pop up when it’s not set up?

  1. Apple-certified NFC readers allow consumers to hold their phone to the reader without Apple Wallet popping up if it isn’t enabled, even if a credit card exists in there.

Solutions and use cases

Apple-certified Apple Wallet for access control vendors

Only Apple-certified vendors can be used to provision or unlock doors using Apple Wallet. Here is a list by credential managers and door readers of Apple-certified providers:

Apple certified access credential manager brands

Apple Wallet certified NFC card reader brands (supporting ECP 2.0 protocol)

  • HID
  • Wavelynx
  • Kisi*

Certified brands available online as of May 15th 2023. If a brand is missing, please email “apple-wallet@getkisi.com” and let us know which to add.

* Coming soon

Access passes

Apple Wallet

Access Passes

Access Credentials

The Wallet app lives right on your iPhone. It’s where you securely keep your credit and debit cards, driver’s license or state ID, transit cards, event tickets, keys, and more — all in one place. And it all works with iPhone or Apple Watch, so you can take less with you but always bring more.

The digital representation of a card in Apple Wallet is called a “pass.”

Apple mobile devices store and protect access credentials on a Secure Element within the device.

Participant Roles

Credential Manager

Credential Provider

Participating Entity

Reader Manufacturer*

The Credential Manager role configures the pass elements and enables the provisioning and life cycle management of passes and credentials for one or multiple access installations.

The Credential Provider role delivers the credential to the Apple Access platform during the provisioning of the pass on the user device.

The Participating Entity is the party that owns or governs the access properties. The Credential Manager and Participating Entity can be the same organization.

Company that provides Apple certified NFC readers. Often same as “Credential Provider”.

*not official terminology by Apple


In-app Provisioning

Access NFC Transactions

With in-app provisioning, users can securely create and add passes to their iPhone from the iOS app provided by the Participating Entity or the Credential Manager on behalf of the Participating Entity.

  • Access NFC transactions allow your users to tap their devices on configured readers to access locations or services available on their pass in Apple Wallet.
  • Auto-Presentment: The device automatically presents the relevant pass for access when the device is within the range of an associated NFC reader for a location in the access installation.
  • Express Mode: Express Mode is a pass setting that allows users to skip on-device authentication for NFC transactions.
  • Terminal Requested Authentication (TRA): Readers can be configured to override the Express Mode pass setting to request on-device authentication from users for all transactions.

Related articles

Save time.

Enhance security.

Modernize your access control with remote management and useful integrations.

Connect with us

facebook icon
instagram icon
linkedin icon
twitter icon