Smart cards, NFC to boost market for access control credentials

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Smart cards and near field communication (NFC) are set to drive new growth in the $400 million global access-control credential market, according to a new study by IMS Research.

Smart cards are expected to lead the next generation of credentials used for physical access control, representing approximately 40 percent of the global market. Secondary uses for these credentials include electronic payments and identity management.

Blake Kozak, a senior analyst for IMS Research, said NFC and personal identification verification (PIV) will also continue play a role in the technological development of access control.

“PIV credentials are a market trend in the USA and have been traditionally used only in government applications,” he told Security Systems News. “However, there has been a recent trend to use these credentials in the private sector.”

Public key infrastructure (PKI) for access control readers and credentials is another growing trend. Kozak said PKI increasingly will be used for reader-credential encryption with the implementation of the FIPS 201-2 recommendations.

Kozak said the main concern about NFC in access control is getting telecommunications providers, smartphone manufacturers and access control suppliers to agree to share revenue and services. Another barrier is reducing the cost of access control installations and maintenance.

“The access control industry has typically been a slow adopter of new technologies not only because of privacy, but also because of the integration with life safety and the need to comply with other regulations,” Kozak said. “As a result, the implementation of NFC brings new questions to the market which must be addressed before uptake increases.”

The IMS study said the pace at which NFC is adopted for use in physical access control is expected to vary by region due to factors that include the number of smartphones that are NFC-enabled, the participation of local mobile network operators, and the involvement of security companies.

Kozak said the uptake for smart-card credentials has been similar in North America and the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Asia), but the EMEA “has a much larger uptake of active transponders and electronic keys compared with the global market.”

To take advantage of growth in the market for access control credentials, Kozak said integrators and installers need to have well-informed teams to provide customized solutions for each end user.

“Some end users will prefer to have the convenience of the network on the card or NFC, while some end users will prefer more highly encrypted solutions,” he said. “Partnering with services providers may be beneficial for residential and small and [medium-sized] businesses which may be more likely to use mobile devices, while large integration projects for enterprise and government may focus more on encryption.”