On the move

Through the door and into the network with Tapit

Following mobile credit cards, the Tapit NFC app is now bringing access systems to smartphones. With this, the badge receives an Internet connection. This opens up numerous completely new possibilities.

Daniel Meierhans

For many employees, the badge is an everyday companion – just like their smartphone. Now Tapit is bringing the two together. Thanks to partnerships with the leading manufacturers of access systems, Siemens and LEGIC Identsystems, the app for central consolidation and administration of NFC services (Near Field Communications) reaches around 90% of Swiss badge users.

 

Tapit started last July with contact-free credit cards. Among other things, this allows contact-free payments of small sums simply by tapping the reading device. Access control now provides a second type of use that is interesting for companies.

 

A badge with smartphone capabilities

Here, the smartphone can not only take over all the functions of an ordinary badge – from a personal door opener to print authorisation and a means of payment in the cafeteria. “It’s the direct Internet connection and the screen that make the real difference,” explains Hugo Straumann, head of the NFC Access department at Swisscom IT, Network & Innovation. Additional functions such as a room reservation, requests for fast on-site support or ordering devices for a meeting can be connected directly to use of the badge as online applications. 

«A temporary access authorisation can easily be sent to the smartphone via mobile communication.»

Hugo Straumann

In addition, there are practical simplifications for administration. For example, mobile communication can be used to send temporary access authorisation for a service technician from the headquarters directly to his or her mobile phone without an employee needing to be present on site.

 

From applications to worlds of experience

“Connecting the NFC authentication to the smartphone opens up almost unlimited possibilities,” Straumann says, looking to the future. This means not only companies can seamlessly integrate badge use into their business applications. For example, retailers also have the option to directly combine customer card usage with online worlds of experience – from a personalised offer to location-specific services, games or ad-hoc prize draws to added value services, such as an allergy app that gives the alert when a problematic product is purchased.

“By simplifying the handling for end users with Tapit, we increase their willingness to use NFC. In the end, all providers benefit from this as every additional application also increases the use of other NFC applications,” as Straumann knows from his previous practical experience.

 

From applications to worlds of experience

“Connecting the NFC authentication to the smartphone opens up almost unlimited possibilities,” Straumann says, looking to the future. This means not only companies can seamlessly integrate badge use into their business applications. For example, retailers also have the option to directly combine customer card usage with online worlds of experience – from a personalised offer to location-specific services, games or ad-hoc prize draws to added value services, such as an allergy app that gives the alert when a problematic product is purchased.

“By simplifying the handling for end users with Tapit, we increase their willingness to use NFC. In the end, all providers benefit from this as every additional application also increases the use of other NFC applications,” as Straumann knows from his previous practical experience.

 

“We don’t want to set up a new competitor but, as a partner, provide the manufacturers and integrators with a secure platform with which they can bring their services to the smartphone without too much personal effort,” says Straumann. This means the users’ previous investments are also protected. And they also receive an additional option for all employees with an NFC-capable smartphone.

 

System renewal as an entry point

The time for implementing Tapit as access control is currently ideal, according to Straumann: “Many companies need to renew their access systems because the older versions are no longer secure. This is a good opportunity to also implement the smartphone extension and thus create the basis for combining additional functions and services with the access system.” The system manufacturer’s usual integration partners will perform the implementation at the companies.

 

Safe deposit box for applications

In addition to an NFC-capable smartphone and the app, Tapit requires a special SIM card, which can be procured free of charge from the website tapit.ch. This works even when the mobile phone is switched off but can be specifically deactivated. In addition, it has much more memory than an ordinary SIM card. This contains a special security element in which separated areas can be created, to which only the application provider in question has access. In these “safe deposit boxes”, authorisation information and additional functions, such as the connection to certain Internet sites, can be securely managed. A current NFC SIM card has space for more than 30 different safe deposit boxes.

tapit.ch

Why NFC?

Near field communications (NFC) is a short distance radio technology from the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology family. It was developed specially for contact-free transmission of data across distances of a few centimetres. With a mobile phone – depending on the security requirements – both passive data transmission, initiated by the reader, and active data transmission are present. The intended main field of application is contact-free authentication, for example for access systems, ticketing, contact-free payments or customer retention programmes. For this, the involved industries –the mobile communications providers, most mobile phone producers, financial service providers, card issuers, retail traders and the manufacturers of access solutions – have all agreed to NFC as the standard.

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Hugo Straumann

As an NFC and security specialist, Hugo Straumann has been developing NFC services at Swisscom Innovation since 2001. At the moment, the master of science in systems engineering is product manager for the Tapit access solution. In 2008, Hugo Straumann, an avid skier and dancer, was responsible for the security of the communications infrastructure for the European Football Championship in Switzerland.