Doors wide open with the Bitwards app

Bitwards converts smartphones into keys

Original text: Ilta Sanomat 13.3.2021, article by Tuomas Lehtonen, translation by Katariina Benedetti.

Finnish Bitwards has developed an app that transforms our smartphones into keys. It is possible to program smartphones to open doors, lockers, gates and even start industrial machines’ ignition switches.

Bitwards has developed a smart platform that replaces traditional keys with a simple app on a smartphone. According to Bitwards’ CEO, Mr Eljas Saastamoinen, the technology can program smartphones to open essentially any door. Bitwards solutions are suitable for companies, public organisations, residential buildings, and private households. In the city of Hanko, in a newly built residential complex, tenants will utilise their mobile keys to access the building and their homes. 

“Bitwards’ goal is to deliver flexible and user-friendly solutions for any building or facility. Instead of managing traditional keys, we digitalise doors by giving short and long-term credentials to authorise users’ access. Credentials can be pre-set, and one user is allowed access to multiple locations simultaneously”, says Mr Saastamoinen. Bitwards’ platform combines an easy-to-control cloud-based managing system and a downloadable app for smartphones. The system’s administrator can manage many facilities online simultaneously and easily allow, change or remove access credentials. It is also possible to create separate user groups and even assign individual access schedules. All that, with a few simple steps. From the dashboard, it is possible to accurately follow the usage of doors and gates and check on the system’s status.

the technology can program smartphones to open essentially any door.
Bitwards mobile application

Partners integrating Bitwards’ intelligent key solutions

Mr Saastamoinen explains that using the Bitwards application is inexpensive, and learning to use it, very easy. There is no need for cables or network connections, making the locks’ installation quick and easy. The solution can be easily combined with other systems, thanks to modern API (Application Programming Interface). “The app works with Bluetooth or NFC-technology and works even when there is no network coverage. We base our solution on the technology that Nokia, among others, developed for mobile pay. Our data security and reliability are of the highest level, certified by a global cybersecurity company and audited by organisations working for the Finnish government”, Mr Saastamoinen says. 

The development of the technology behind Bitwards today started at Flexim Security, where Mr Saastamoinen worked as the CTO. When AssaAbloy bought Flexim in 2016, Mr Saastamoinen and his partners created Bitwards to develop the new platform further.

Bitwards does not manufacture locks but connects its platform to smart locks made by various manufacturers. Customers can, therefore, freely choose the locks that best fulfil their needs, with no limitations. “Primarily, we offer our technology through security, locking and different system integrators that combine it as part of their full package solution. At the monument, the ecosystem comprises 15-16 device manufacturers, global security integrators such as G4S and Stanley Security and IT integrators such as ATEA. Our goal is to grow internationally through our network of partners”.

Adding flexibility to the booking of Cospace’s facilities 

Cospace Finland Oy offers coworking spaces and is one of Bitwards’ first clients. Since 2017 Cospace has been located right in the city centre of Porvoo, in an old, majestic building that used to be a bank. Cospace’s CEO Petter Larsen said Cospace was looking for the appropriate access control and key system but trying to find that was becoming a problem.

“We offer Smart Office office space, both for companies and private individuals. You can reserve desks, workspaces, meeting rooms and seminar rooms, and even a sauna. Customers have access to high-speed internet, printing, copying, and scanning services. We rent the selected space for a minimum of two hours, and because of customers coming and going, access control has to be smooth and easy to manage”, Mr Larsen says. He met Mr Saastamoinen and found out about Bitwards’ platform at an international conference. Finally, Mr Larsen found what he had been looking for, and Cospace adopted the platform in 2018. 

“Bitwards solution suits our needs perfectly. The technology is safe, reliable, flexible and user-friendly. There is no need to physically meet a customer, as it is possible to allow access remotely. The user-friendliness is of particular importance to us because many of our customers occasionally need to use the facilities only for a short time”, Mr Larsen says. “Another big advantage of this system is that it is scalable. We have already implemented the smart key platform system in a building that we opened just opposite Cospace. It’s a Hub-meeting and team-work space, and we are considering extending the use of the platform for our customers to access dedicated lockers”, Mr Larsen concludes.