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When opening a door that has a Kisi reader, Bluetooth or NFC is the technology behind the scenes that makes it work. Both Bluetooth and NFC are wireless technology standards that are used to exchange data over short distances. Physical devices like a card, fob, or sticker use NFC technology, while mobile devices can use NFC or Bluetooth to gain access.

Physical credentials#

The Kisi Reader Pro can read most NFC credentials, such as MIFARE-based NFC cards, for example.

With Kisi, users can unlock doors with Kisi cards (Kisi Passes), third-party NFC cards, tags, or fobs. Each Kisi card, tag, or fob must be assigned by an admin and then activated by the user or the administrator. The user will receive an email with a link to activate the card, although administrators can activate cards themselves directly in the web app.


In the standard model, only the user can activate the card, tag, or fob. Also, the administrator can choose not to require card activation for certain users.

For more about the standard and organization models, check the Organization versus Standard Model guide.

If a card, fob, or tag is lost or stolen, both the user and admin have the ability to deactivate it. Additionally, if a user leaves the company, the admin can de-assign it from the user. This allows the administrator to reuse the credential for a new user.

Kisi Passes#

Kisi passes are encrypted cards that are based on the MIFARE DESFire EV 1 card platform.

Kisi provides state-of-the-art NFC-based passes that users can use at any Kisi location they are authorized. Most access control systems utilize RFID keycards. However, Kisi has developed a more secure version of the keycard based on NFC technology.

Each Kisi pass has a token associated with it, which is printed on the front of the pass. This token can be used to assign a card to a user. This allows the admin to accurately track users as they enter facilities.

Kisi offers a black card with the Kisi logo, but Kisi cards can be customized. Customers can brand cards with their corporate design when buying them from Kisi, or buy them in white and print profiles on them afterward.

Kisi pass

Type of PassBlack cardWhite, customizable card
Model IdentifierCardBlack1.1CardWhite1.1
Surface finishesMatt and black, both sides, with glossy detailsMatt and white, both sides, with glossy details
Token fontInconsolataInconsolata
Format for token8 digits8 digits
Format for QR codecard-black-1.1:<token>card-white-1.1:<token>

Third-party cards#

If the card is not a native Kisi card but is still an NFC card, it can most likely be assigned to work with Kisi (although some NFC cards don't have the necessary encryption to be compatible with the Kisi system). When using a third-party card Kisi only reads the card's UID and does not utilize any cryptographic features.

To assign third-party cards, the administrator needs to scan them with an Android device with an NFC scanner app installed.

Kisi Tags#

These are adhesive square-shaped stickers that can be applied onto existing access cards that are not NFC enabled. They also work via NFC and can be assigned through a token.

Kisi tag

  • Model Identifier: Tag1.1.
  • Dimensions: 40x40mm.
  • Chip: MIFARE DESFire EV1 2K.
  • Surfaces finish: adhesive back side, individual cutting, ID printing.
  • Token font: Inconsolata.
  • Format for token: 8 digits.
  • Format for QR code: tag-1.1:<token>.

Kisi Fobs#

Kisi fobs are physical devices that communicate with the reader using NFC technology. They don't have buttons and they function exactly the same way as cards.

Fobs are also assigned by an admin to a user through their token.

Kisi fob

  • Model Identifier: Fob1.1.
  • Dimensions: 44.5x35mm.
  • Chip: MIFARE DESFire EV1 2K.
  • Surfaces finish: epoxy both sides.
  • Key chain material: nylon rope.
  • Token font: Inconsolata.
  • Format for token: 8 digits.
  • Format for QR code: fob-1.1:<token>.

Mobile credentials#

Kisi offers a mobile app for Android and iOS. Users can see a list of their places and the doors they have access to from the app.

From the mobile app, admins have a link to the admin dashboard, so they can enter from there without having to open a browser apart.

For unlocking using a mobile phone, iOS users need to make sure that the Location Services are always shared with the Kisi app in order to make the door open automatically when they're close to it, and Android users need to have NFC enabled.

NFC in its current form was only introduced in 2002, and is not supported by all appliances and devices, yet. Its range is rather limited (within inches), and its data transfer carrying capacity is more limited. Bluetooth, however, has been the standard since 1994 and has a much deeper market adoption rate.

Kisi offers two methods for unlocking using a mobile phone:


This is done from the Kisi app, by tapping the reader. It works through BLE or NFC technologies. A user taps the mobile phone against the reader, which then talks to the cloud and the controller. Communication with the controller can also be through a local network. If the local network is offline, the phone will request offline credentials from the cloud to present them to the reader, then the reader will talk to the controller without any intermediaries.

Tap to unlock

Tap in-app#

A user taps a button in the Kisi app, sending the unlock request directly to the cloud, then to the controller, which fires the relay opening the door. Notice that in this case, the reader is not necessary.

Tap to unlock