Beyond Apple Wallet: Exploring Cost-Effective Alternatives for Mobile Access Control

How effective is Apple Wallet as a digital access system? We help you evaluate cost against value when choosing the right solution for your property(ies).

The modern workplace is transforming to adopt the latest cutting-edge access technology. Organizations are now required to decide on the latest and greatest access control systems that can maximize building security, scale with business needs, and provide a seamless user experience, all while being cost-effective and easy to implement.

Cloud-based access control systems are offering new opportunities for building owners and administrators to improve security and significantly increase operational efficiency. Apple Wallet—Apple’s digital wallet service, originally introduced with iOS 6 in 2012—has gained particular popularity among businesses.

Considering its ubiquity, Apple Wallet may seem like an easy first choice for mobile access control integration—but there’s a lot more to consider than brand recognition.

A robust mobile entry system provides occupancy-driven automation and differentiated access control as cost-effective business solutions. It equips you to improve space utilization, reduce waste, and align more easily with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting and disclosure standards.

Let’s explore Apple Wallet in more detail. How did it rise to the forefront of digital access fame so suddenly? And what other options may, in spite of that fame, serve businesses better?

Photographer: Tada Images

The Rise of Apple Wallet

Apple Wallet, originally launched as Apple Passbook, has quickly developed a somewhat synonymous understanding with digital wallets as a whole. The feature allows customers to digitally store and access a wide range of credentials on the go, including (but not limited to):

  • Credit/debit cards
  • IDs
  • Public transit passes
  • Coupons
  • Event tickets
  • NFC and UWB keys

Due to overwhelming name recognition, the service quickly caught on with businesses across the United States. Retail and quick-service giants such as Target, Costco, Walgreens, and McDonald’s quickly rolled out partnerships; by the end of the last decade (barely eight years after launch), Apple declared that 65% of retail locations across the country supported Apple Pay.

Two years ago, Apple decided to expand the digital wallet’s basic payment capabilities and add access control features. “With the Apple Wallet app, we set out to replace your physical wallet,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s VP of internet services and Apple Pay, at the 2021 Worldwide Web Developer Conference.

The next step of that replacement, naturally, was building access. Partnering with companies such as Latch, Schlage, and Assa Abloy, the company aims to corner the mobile access control market for rental homes—and eventually, building access everywhere.

But just because Apple has engineered the flashiest, most widespread rollout, that doesn’t make it the best option for your access control needs. Like any self-contained IoT ecosystem, it has its limitations.

Let’s dig deeper into the benefits of seeking cost-effective alternatives to Apple Wallet for access management. We’ll uncover where Apple Wallet may fall short as an effective entry system. We’ll also help you evaluate cost against value when choosing the right solution for your property.

The Limitations of Apple Wallet for Access Control

‍As mentioned above, Apple integrates with select lock and reader manufacturers (Wavelynx, Salto, Lenel and HID) to create NFC-enabled readers compatible with Apple Wallet, to allow iOS users to use the app for digital building access. The mobile app lets users store digital versions of access cards and employee badges. Employees can use their verified badges to access buildings by simply tapping their iPhone or Apple Watch instead of needing a physical key, fob, or key card.

While it is convenient to verify employees’ identities, Apple Wallet lacks some critical property management and security features. When comparing Apple Wallet to other access control systems, we noticed the following glaring limitations.

  • Compatibility: Apple Wallet is only available on iOS devices. This means that users with Android or other non-iOS devices cannot use it for access control. In addition, users need an eligible device and OS version.
  • High hardware replacement costs: Since Apple only partners with specific lock manufacturers (such as SALTO, Lenel, and HID) to create readers that support Apple Wallet keys, you will likely have to replace your current access control hardware. Even if your hardware already incorporates NFC technology, it may not support Apple Wallet keys in the future.
  • Vendor lock-in: Using Apple Wallet for access control locks into the Apple ecosystem, making it difficult to switch to a different solution in the future.
  • Limited flexibility and integrations: With limited integration and configuration options it’s difficult to incorporate Apple Wallet into a larger access control infrastructure.
  • Lack of fine-grained control: Apple access control does not offer the level of granularity needed for certain use cases, such as remotely unlocking doors and automated access expiration for one-time guests.

Evaluating Cost-Effectiveness: Factors to Consider Beyond Apple Wallet

When evaluating the cost-effectiveness of any access control system (beyond just the Apple Wallet), there’s a lot to take into account. While you may see a once-off fee displayed for a device, you need to consider how your business will benefit from the provided features and whether there are any ongoing or hidden fees.

Always consider the following factors before making a final decision on your access control system of choice.

  • Installation Costs: This includes the cost of hardware, software, the number of access points, and any necessary infrastructure or electrical upgrades.
  • Automation: While basic systems use logs to lower upfront costs, this generates significantly more manual administration work. Automation saves time and money for access control administrators; being able to manage access control dashboards remotely also improves security measures.
  • Maintenance and Support: Factor in ongoing costs for system updates, software licenses, and technical support.
  • Scalability: Consider whether the system can easily accommodate future growth or changes in your organization. How much will the cost increase with an increased number of users?
  • Integration: Evaluate how well the access control system integrates with existing security systems, such as video surveillance or alarm systems.
  • Security Features: Assess the level of security provided by the system, including encryption and authentication methods.

Exploring Cost-Effective Access Control Alternatives

Apple services, even at enterprise level, are charged per user, mobile credential, or device. Between ensuring compatibility and replacing hardware across your facility, using Apple Wallet for access control can quickly become a pricy endeavor.

If your business already operates with iOS devices and you don’t need role-based access control, it may not seem such a big deal. However, what if you had a solution that didn’t require you to replace hardware, and that was compatible with all devices? In addition, how about not having to worry about the future cost of increased traffic and scaling your access system? This could save you significantly.

A solution like Sentry Mobile Access, for example, integrates with your building’s existing access control systems. Furthermore, since there’s no need for electronic wired door readers, you can bring extra doors online remotely without installations or needing to issue additional keycards.

The cloud-based readerless solution allows you to easily scale your business, whether it’s new locations, global growth, or increased staff. For new locations, you can simply add more devices to your central system. This prevents having to rebuild your security infrastructure every time you create a new facility.

Another noteworthy cost saver with Sentry Mobile Access software: it integrates with all major access control brand systems. By merging multiple disparate systems, you can manage building access in a cohesive central system—which means lower setup and transition costs. Additionally, you can manage multiple facilities remotely from a single hub.

Benefits of Sentry Mobile Access: A Budget-Friendly Access Control Solution

A keyless entry system like Sentry Mobile Access offers a lot more than just the convenience of not carrying a physical key card or fob around with you. It improves facility security, reduces business costs, and improves building management. It also simplifies access control for guests and clients, ensures compliance, streamlines operations, and offers insights into facility use.

With Sentry Mobile Access, property managers can create custom access schedules for different users, ensuring authorized access to certain areas only. They can monitor and control authorization from anywhere, as well—be it via computer, tablet, or smartphone. This enables real-time monitoring and multi-property management of access rights, even when managers aren’t physically on-site.

Administrators can grant digital visitor passes remotely, with temporary time-limits—or revoke access if event of a lost phone, a security concern or breach, or changeover in staff/tenants. These streamlined and automated access control capabilities significantly reduce administrative paperwork, time, and labor—and improve the user experience.

The Sentry Mobile Access control system offers another opportunity for significant cost savings or even revenue increases. With data-driven insights about property use, peak access times, and low-use areas, you can optimize your strategy to improve rental income or, in turn, lower power output among other cost-saving strategies.

Open the Door to More Cost Savings

Your access control system should not only provide improved property security—it should also open multiple avenues for cost savings. Sentry Interactive offers mobile access control plans to suit your business size and type, so you can expand your access solution according to your business needs—without compromising the security of your facility.

Find the perfect, feature-rich, cost-effect solution for your business. Schedule a demo with our team today.

William Bainborough

Board of Directors

William is an experienced British entrepreneur, founder, and accomplished board executive and advisor for a number of businesses. He is the CEO and co-founder of Doordeck, the world’s only true cloud-based access control aggregator. He is also the managing director and founder of Group Secure, a leader in providing security, CCTV, and access control solutions, products, and installation for high-net-worth individuals in the UK. 

William established his first business at just seventeen and brings 20-plus years of in-depth experience and industry knowledge. He has a proven track record for building businesses from the ground up—and then leading them to profitability and a successful exit across a myriad of sectors including hospitality, retail, security, telecommunications, and e-commerce. William’s leadership, vision, and experience in creating cutting-edge SaaS-based technology platforms will prove invaluable for Sentry Interactive moving forward.

Denis Hébert

Board of Directors
Hébert began his career at Honeywell International where he held several leadership positions including Managing Director for the Automation and Controls business in France and eventually President of the NexWatch Corporation from 1999-2002. Hébert led HID Global as President & CEO over a transformative 12-year period from 2002-2015, where he provided strategic guidance and grew the business tenfold through a mix of strong organic and acquisitive growth. Most recently, Hébert was President of Feenics Corporation which is a cloud-based access control company that was successfully sold to ACRE LLC at the end of 2021. Hébert also served on the Board of Directors for the Security Industry Association (SIA) from 2009-2020 and was nominated to be Chairman of the Board for SIA from 2016-2018. He is currently Chairman of the Board for Nightingale Security based in Newark, CA.

Stephen Taylor Matthews

Board of Directors
Stephen is a very accomplished attorney, member of the Texas State Bar, licensed commercial real estate broker, and an avid philanthropist. He is an experienced executive board member, serving in leadership positions for more than 20 community councils and corporate boards—ranging from Boy Scouts of America to the ABBA Business Leaders Council, and most recently the American Bank BOD, the Real Estate Council of Austin, and the Marbridge Foundation BOT. With more than 35 years experience, Stephen and his firm, Barrond & Adler, L.L.P. are devoted to eminent domain cases in Texas.

Jon Davis

Board of Directors

Mr. Davis is an Experienced corporate board member, having served on boards of public, private equity-backed, and venture-backed companies. Jon possesses deep industry expertise in dairy, food processing, food technology and manufacturing, and food, beverage, and entertainment services. 

During Jon’s tenure of 25 plus years, he’s led operations, research and development, and mergers and acquisitions. He’s served as CEO and has been the founder and active board member for many successful enterprises—from startups to billion-dollar corporations. While COO and CEO of Davisco Foods International, Jon built a state-of-the-art cheese plant which was awarded the United States Dairy processing plant of the year in 2005 by Dairy Foods magazine. Currently, Jon is active with several non-dairy projects, including investments in local real estate, the Wayzata Brewworks, and his latest venture the new CōV restaurant in Edina’s Galleria.

Joe Caldwell

Founder and Chairman of the Board

Joe is an American entrepreneur, investor, and accomplished executive. He has co-founded, founded, and led many successful businesses, including US Internet, a leading fiber internet service provider, Securence, a leading provider of email filtering software, and Ravon, an industry-leading digital voice communications service. 

It was Joe’s venture, Municipal Parking Services (MPS), that inspired him in 2020 to start Sentry Interactive, an advanced touchless and staffless detection platform.

Caldwell currently serves as CEO and Chairman of the Board for Municipal Parking Services (MPS), a global tech company based in Austin, TX responsible for inventing and patenting technologies that assist in parking and security enforcement.

Joe was named one of Minnesota’s 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders for the past two years—and is a seasoned corporate board member. He’s served on boards of public, private equity-backed, and venture-backed companies—and has deep industry expertise in all aspects of digital technology.

Jason Bohrer

Jason Bohrer

President and CEO
Jason Bohrer is one of the visionaries behind our mission to bring people back together safely and securely, in any environment, through Sentry’s advanced digital communications and detection platform. With over two decades of senior leadership experience, Jason’s track record of success spans across sales, operations, product innovation, strategy, and technology for domestic and global companies like Bexar Technology Partners, CPI Card Group, HID Global, and Motorola, Inc. Prior to launching Sentry Interactive, Jason was actively involved with several key technology transitions across multiple industries, including the contact and contactless EMV transitions in the U.S. payments industry and the adoption of smart card and mobile technologies in the global access and identity market. Jason was an inaugural member of the University of Chicago Executive Institute and holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves as the Executive Director for two industry-leading not-for-profit organizations: the Secure Technology Alliance and the U.S. Payments Forum.
Kent Kubie

Kent Kubie

Vice President Sales and Marketing
Kent Kubie oversees Sentry’s commercial team, including sales, marketing, and strategic partnerships. With more than 30 years of experience in technology and sales, Kent has expertise in SaaS, Cyber Security, Enterprise software and hardware, Cloud, AI/ML Cognitive, IM, Software Solutions, Hardware Solutions, Converged Infrastructure, Virtualization, and Marketing and Sales Automation. His diverse industry knowledge ranges from healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, transportation, telecommunications, and software channels. Kent spent the majority of his career at IBM where he held numerous leadership roles across strategic account planning, channel partnerships, and sales execution for Fortune 500 clients. While at IBM, Kent also led the US Software Reseller Channel Sales team and built the global partner enablement program. Kent holds the distinguished honor of completing an executive education program sponsored by IBM and Harvard University and being a member of IBM’s Harvard Club.
Brent Terry

Brent Terry

Chief Operating Officer
Brent Terry leads the operations and solutions organizations at Sentry. This includes all product innovation, development, and operations management. A veteran in the technology space, Brent has more than 30 years of experience across a myriad of industries, like physical security technology and building automation, SAAS, hardware and software product development, internet, digital TV, interactive TV, digital media, telecommunications, and medical products and services. Prior to Sentry, Brent has spun up successful startups and led high-performing teams for some of the biggest global, Fortune 500 companies, including ARRIS, Conerco, Motive Communications, SeaChange International, and IBM. Brent holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Louisiana. He also is the committee Chairman and Program Director for a non-profit organization responsible for the rollout of smart cards for physicians and first responders.