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Mobile credential

Mobile credential definition

A mobile credential is a digital representation of electronic identification documents stored and accessed on a mobile device (e.g., smartphone or table). These documents can include identification cards, employee passes, access cards, or tickets and passes. Using mobile credentials provides an easy and secure way to authenticate a user’s identity to access offices, applications, or online services. Government agencies, businesses, and educational institutions use mobile credentials.

See also: biometric authentication

How do mobile credentials work?

Mobile credentials combine something you know (e.g., a PIN code) with something you have (e.g., a smartphone) and something you are (e.g., facial recognition). Combining them adds the benefit of multi-factor authentication (MFA) and makes mobile credentials a secure alternative to physical credentials. Here’s how mobile credentials typically work:

  • The user signs up for a mobile credential with the organization or service that issues it (e.g., an employer or a ticketing company).
  • The user downloads a mobile app provided by the credential issuer.
  • The issuer creates a unique digital version of your credential which contains the necessary information (like your name, access permissions, or ticket details).
  • The credential is securely stored within the mobile app on the user’s device, often using encryption to protect it.
  • When users want to use mobile credentials, the app verifies their identity using MFA methods (e.g., PIN codes or fingerprints).
  • The user’s mobile device communicates with compatible readers and terminals using technologies like Bluetooth and NFC.
  • The reader checks the authenticity of the mobile credential. If the credential is valid, the user can access or perform desired actions (like opening doors or processing payments).

Mobile credential benefits

  • Increased security. Mobile credentials use advanced technologies to ensure the credential stays safe. It is difficult to access or clone because it is securely stored on a smartphone, making it much safer than a physical credential.
  • Convenience. With most of us using our phones daily, having mobile credentials on our devices makes things easy and convenient. Physical credentials can be forgotten or left at home, while it is rare that we leave our mobile devices at home because we rely on them so much.