ArticleThe Advantages of Key Fob Access Control Systems: Enhancing Security and Convenience

by | 17 May, 2024 | Accessories, Access Control, Hardware

Advantages of Key Fob Access Control solutions with swipe cards and tags in various formats at competitive prices.
A variety of key fob access control devices, including keyring fobs, card-shaped tags, and customizable fobs, floating around a centralized digital access panel, depicted in a modern digital artwork with dark grey and vibrant green color palette, symbolizing advanced security technology.


In the realm of security solutions, key fob access control systems represent a significant leap in convenience and safety. Utilised by a wide array of industries, these systems employ advanced technology to ensure secure, keyless entry, making them an invaluable asset for modern businesses seeking efficient and reliable security measures.

ZKTeco Advanced Access Control Systems NZ with Key Fob Access Control including Tags and Cards

How Key Fob Access Control Systems Work

Key fob access control systems leverage Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to secure environments. Embedded with a microchip, each key fob emits a unique identification signal that is read by scanners near entry points. Access is granted or denied based on the verification of this signal against a centralised database, allowing for precise control over who can enter sensitive areas within a facility.

Advantages of Key Fob Access Control Systems

Key fob systems bring several key advantages to the security infrastructure of any organisation:

Enhanced security features of key fob access control system with digital locks, audit trails, and rapid deactivation technology depicted in a futuristic 3D style.

Enhanced Security

  • Traceable Access: Each entry and exit is logged, providing clear audit trails.
  • Difficult to Duplicate: The unique coding of key fobs makes them hard to clone.
  • Rapid Deactivation: Lost or compromised fobs can be quickly deactivated, enhancing security integrity.
A person easily using a key fob on a modern, sleek key fob reader integrated into a stylish door handle, symbolizing enhanced convenience in access control systems.

Increased Convenience

  • User-Friendly: Simple tap or swipe action to gain entry.
  • Portable: Fobs are small and can be easily carried or incorporated into personal items like keychains.
  • Keyless System: Eliminates the need for physical keys or remembering complex codes.
A high-tech control room displaying seamless integration of a key fob system with CCTV and alarm systems, highlighting comprehensive monitoring capabilities in a futuristic setting.

Integrated Security Features

  • Key fob systems can be seamlessly integrated with other security frameworks such as CCTV and alarm systems, enabling not only entry control but also comprehensive monitoring and alerting capabilities.


Traditional Lock & KeyKey Fob Access Control
Frequent rekeying and key replacementLong-term savings
High maintenance costsLower maintenance costs
InflexibleEasily expanded or modified

Comparing traditional lock and key systems with key fob access control systems, the latter often presents more economical long-term benefits due to reduced maintenance and operational costs. They eliminate frequent rekeying or key replacement expenses and are simpler to scale or modify as organisational needs evolve.

Key Fob Access Control Systems vs. Biometric Technologies

RFID Key Fob Access Control

Key Fob Access Control Systems:

  • Key fob systems use RFID technology for secure, easy access.
  • They are user-friendly and cost-effective.
  • Easily distributed and deactivated, making them flexible.
ZKTeco FR1200 Biometric Fingerprint Reader for Access Control

Biometric Technologies:

  • Biometric systems use unique physical traits for authentication.
  • Highly secure, difficult to forge.
  • Require higher initial investment and maintenance.


Key fobs are ideal for general access, offering convenience and ease of use.

Biometric systems provide enhanced security for high-risk areas.

Some manufacturers, such as ZKTeco, offer hybrid readers that support both RFID key fobs and biometric technologies, combining the benefits of both systems.

Combining both can create a comprehensive security solution, balancing convenience with robust protection.

Let’s get technical

RFID Technologies and Frequencies

RFID Technologies:

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology is widely used in access control systems. Different RFID cards operate at various frequencies and offer unique features and security levels.

Proximity (Prox) Cards:

Prox cards operate at a low frequency of 125 kHz. They are commonly used for door access and parking systems. These cards are simple, cost-effective, and easy to use but lack advanced security features. They only transmit a card’s identification number, making them less secure compared to more advanced RFID technologies.


MIFARE cards operate at a high frequency of 13.56 MHz. These smart cards use encryption keys to secure data and require mutual authentication between the card and reader. MIFARE cards are versatile, used in access control, public transportation, and payment systems. They offer moderate security and can store additional data, making them suitable for more complex applications.


MIFARE DESFire cards are an advanced version, also operating at 13.56 MHz. They use robust encryption methods like DES, 3DES, and AES, providing high-level security. DESFire cards can host multiple applications, supporting up to 28 different ones on a single card. They are ideal for high-security environments such as transportation ticketing, access control, and secure ID badges.

EM Cards:

EM cards are another type of RFID card operating at 125 kHz. They are commonly used for access control due to their simplicity and low cost. However, like prox cards, they lack advanced security features.

Comparison of Technologies:

  • Frequency: Prox and EM cards operate at 125 kHz, while MIFARE and MIFARE DESFire operate at 13.56 MHz.
  • Security: MIFARE DESFire offers the highest security with advanced encryption, followed by MIFARE Classic with moderate security, and Prox and EM cards with basic security.
  • Applications: Prox and EM cards are suitable for low-security applications like basic door access. MIFARE Classic is good for mid-range security needs such as loyalty programs and basic access control. MIFARE DESFire is best for high-security applications like public transport and secure identification.

Brands and Hybrid Solutions:

Brands like ZKTeco offer hybrid readers that support both RFID key fobs and biometric technologies, providing flexibility and enhanced security. These hybrid solutions combine the convenience of key fobs with the robust security of biometrics, catering to various security needs in a single system.

Pros and Cons:

  • Prox and EM Cards:

    • Pros: Cost-effective, easy to use.
    • Cons: Low security, limited data storage.
  • MIFARE Classic:

    • Pros: Moderate security, data storage capabilities.
    • Cons: Outdated encryption, vulnerable to cloning.

    • Pros: High security, multiple applications, advanced encryption.
    • Cons: Higher cost, requires compatible readers.

Industries and Applications

Key fob systems are versatile and find applications across various sectors, including:

    Illustration of a high-security environment, featuring advanced surveillance systems and secure access control in a modern architectural setting.

    High-Security Environments

    Government buildings, research facilities, financial institutions.

    Futuristic corporate environment showcasing modern key fob access control systems with employees in a high-tech office setting.

    Corporate Environments

    Managing access to different departments within corporate buildings.

    Modern corporate office environment, showing a spacious, well-lit office area with professionals engaging in business activities, reflecting a dynamic corporate atmosphere.

    Educational Institutions

    Safeguarding students and staff by restricting access to certain areas.

    Diversity in Access Control Tags and Fobs

    Access control systems are versatile not only in function but also in the form of access devices they support. The type of tag, fob, or card chosen can depend on specific security needs, convenience, and even personal style preferences. Here’s an overview of the various forms these devices can take:

    ZKTeco Access Control Keyring Tag/Fob | Mifare and RFID EM

    Keyring Fobs

    Compact and durable, keyring fobs are the most common type of access device. Easily attachable to a keychain, they are ideal for everyday use.

    ZKTeco Wearable Access Control ID tag with Mifare or EM

    Wearable Tags

    Emerging as a trendy and practical option, wearable tags can be incorporated into wristbands, watches, or lanyards, offering ease of access with a modern twist.

    ZKTeco Access Control ID Mifare Card

    Credit Card-Shaped Access Cards

    These are similar in size and shape to a standard credit card and can be conveniently carried in a wallet or purse. They are often used in corporate environments for their sleek appearance and ease of integration with other identification cards.

    ZKTeco Mobile QR Code scanning for Access Control

    Mobile Access Control

    Increasingly, smartphones are being used as a key fob replacement. With the help of NFC or Bluetooth, phones can grant access, merging convenience with high-tech security.

    Custom ID Tag_Fob

    Customizable Fobs

    For those requiring a more personalised approach, customisable fobs are available that can feature logos, custom shapes, and varying technologies. These are particularly popular in branded environments or for functions where the fob itself serves as a branding or membership tool.

    Selecting the Right Type for Your Needs

    Choosing the right type of access control device involves considering the specific security requirements, user convenience, and the intended user group’s preferences. For instance, high-traffic environments might benefit from more durable and easily distributed options like keyring fobs, while upscale office buildings might opt for sleek, card-shaped devices for a more professional look.

    Installation and Maintenance

    The installation of key fob systems should be conducted by professionals who can customise the setup based on the organization’s specific needs. Ongoing maintenance might include routine checks, software updates, and fob replacements to ensure system integrity and functionality.


    As the demand for streamlined and robust security solutions grows, key fob access control systems stand out as a smart choice for organisations aiming to enhance operational efficiency and security. With their adaptability, ease of use, and integration capabilities, these systems are poised to remain at the forefront of security technology innovations.


    What is a key fob access control system, and how does it work?

    A key fob access control system uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to manage access to secure areas. Each key fob contains a microchip that emits a unique identification code when near a reader. The reader verifies this code against a database to grant or deny access, ensuring only authorised individuals can enter.

    What are the benefits of using key fob access control systems?

    Key fob access control systems offer enhanced security through traceable access, difficult-to-duplicate fobs, and quick deactivation of lost or stolen fobs. They also provide increased convenience with easy-to-use, compact key fobs that eliminate the need for traditional keys or codes.

    Can key fob access control systems be integrated with other security measures?

    Yes, key fob systems can seamlessly integrate with other security solutions such as CCTV and alarm systems. This integration allows for comprehensive monitoring and real-time alerts, providing a more robust security infrastructure.

    How do key fob access control systems ensure data protection and compliance?

    Key fob systems often include advanced encryption and data management features, ensuring that access logs and user data are protected. Regular updates and compliance with security standards help maintain data integrity and meet regulatory requirements.

    What types of key fobs are available for access control systems?

    There are various types of key fobs available, including keyring fobs, card-shaped tags, customisable fobs, and wearable tags. Each type offers different benefits in terms of convenience, security, and user preference, making it easy to find a solution that fits specific needs.

    What is the difference between Prox and MIFARE cards?

    Prox cards operate at 125 kHz and are primarily used for basic access control without data storage capabilities. MIFARE cards operate at 13.56 MHz, offering higher security with encryption and data storage.

    Can I use a single reader for both key fobs and biometric access?

    Yes, hybrid readers from manufacturers like ZKTeco support both RFID key fobs and biometric technologies, providing flexible and secure access control solutions.

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    About the author



    Reynardt Badenhorst, founder and Managing Director of NZTeco Limited, is ZKTeco's primary distributor in New Zealand and nearby islands. Boasting two decades in the security sector, he has dedicated over ten years to ZKTeco, even working for them in South Africa.At NZTeco, Reynardt oversees projects, marketing, and website development. He frequently pens articles on ZKTeco products, from Time & Attendance to Access Control, showcasing his industry passion. Beyond his professional life, Reynardt is an avid photographer and video editor, skills that enrich his web development approach.
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