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The Tectonic Shift From Physical Biometrics Device to Geofencing-enabled Mobile Clock-ins

By September 30, 2023April 30th, 2024No Comments


The Tectonic Shift From Physical Biometrics Device to Geofencing-enabled Mobile Clock-ins

Mobile Time Tracking App Selecting Guide Included

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Mobile Time Tracking App Selecting Guide
A 2-page guide listing the must-have features and key selection criteria to choose the right mobile time tracking app based on business needs.

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RESOURCES  > WHITEPAPER > The Tectonic Shift From Physical Biometrics Device to Geofencing-enabled Mobile Clock-ins

The industry is dominated by antiquated access control measures. The issue is that times have changed. However, many organisations’ access systems have not. Access needs are constantly changing, and businesses require more from their physical access control systems. However, most businesses still use decade-old processes, and many are unaware of the risks involved.

Outdated systems comprise ageing access control technologies that have been in use for several years but have not adapted to environmental changes. They are vulnerable to security and data breaches because technologies are outdated. Hackers, for example, can quickly gain unauthorised access to files and data in these systems. As a result, outdated systems are less effective at protecting organisations.

Some Risks of Using Outdated Access Control Methods Include:

  • Using readily available technology, anyone can easily clone cards.
  • Key cards are frequently misplaced. 
  • Keypad PINs are frequently shared.
  • Modern card readers are incompatible with it.
  • It’s challenging to find and reorder stock.

Besides extensive maintenance, it cannot be remotely updated. Outdated systems have several security flaws that could jeopardise physical access and sensitive data. Worse, if an unauthorised person entered the premises, they could cause physical harm.

The Rise of Biometrics

Biometric technology research has advanced at a rapid pace in the last ten years alone. Biometrics has progressed from a novel technology to an integral part of daily life. In 2013, Apple added fingerprint recognition to the iPhone, ushering in the widespread acceptance of biometric authentication. Most smartphones now have biometric capabilities, and many apps use biometrics to authenticate everyday functions. Many access control and the manual clock-in system could be combined into a single physical biometric system by replacing the access card and time card with what you already possess – your fingerprint or your facial data. 

And it worked great for some time since it eliminated the need to remember PINs and carry any physical documents to facilitate time stamps. Then Covid-19 happened.

How COVID-19 Turned the Biometric Industry Upside Down.

Before COVID-19, the most common access control cum time clocking system was via fingerprint verifications. It requires the user to make direct physical contact with the scanner for a predetermined period for the user’s biometric pattern to be correctly read and measured. Unfortunately, COVID-19 came along. Current evidence suggests that transmission of COVID-19 occurs primarily through the respiratory droplets of infected people, which are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings.

Physical contact also increases the likelihood of harmful microbial pathogens inoculating the respiratory tract and causing infectious diseases. From this viewpoint, we establish the possibility of infectious disease transmission via touch-based fingerprint biometric devices. Essential workers are the most at risk because physical biometrics are used in almost all critical industries today, such as the public sector, grocery stores, healthcare, services, etc.

We must recognise the risks these essential workers take every day and put in place ways to keep the workplace safe. Because of these fears, the NYPD and MTA have temporarily stopped using timeclocks. Although using facial recognition appears to work around that issue, another problem arose as that is usually done by a single device which becomes a bottleneck, especially during rush hours.

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The Case For the Modern-Day Automated Time-Clocking System

With all that said, it distills down to 3 key reasons for companies to identify a better way to conduct time clock:

  • To maintain ‘no contact’ yet capture time.
  • To go maintenance-free and keep up with tech; and.
  • To bring efficiency and optimise productivity

And many time-clocking apps are leveraging existing technology and the convenience of the smartphone to address all these objectives. These are conducted with a combination of the following features.

To Maintain ‘No Contact’ Yet Capture Time

  • Geofencing Check

With GPS, it is possible to create a geofence around the vicinity of the worksite. A geofence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. A geofence could be dynamically generated or match a predefined set of boundaries.

The use of a geofence is called geofencing, and one example of use involves a location-aware device of a location-based service user entering or exiting a geofence. Imagine walking into a geofence, and the system clocked your presence automatically and in real-time.

  • Facial Recognition Check-In

For many smartphone users, this would be something many are well acquainted with. With the time clocking software loaded onto a shared device, attendance clocking requires the unique 3D face of the individual to be verified by the device’s built-in camera. Facial recognition will also address any concerns that geofencing simply may not, which is the clocking of time attendance due to possession of another’s smartphone.  

  • QR Code Check-In

Developed in 1994 by the Japanese corporation Denso Wave—a division of Denso, a subsidiary of the automobile company Toyota Motor Corporation—to track automobile parts during the assembly process, the QR code has become prevalent in almost every facet of our lives. At the consumer level, it is a familiar item for making payments. But the same technology could be deployed for attendance check-in too. 

To Go Maintenance-Free and Keep Up With Tech

For many modern SaaS, maintenance is well-optimised given that the instance runs off the cloud, and any updates to that would be pushed out to all users’ smartphones. This will ensure the latest bug fixes and new features will get into the hands of the users who need them the most. Beyond that, there are other aspects of consideration.

  • Offline Mode

Many phone apps require an internet connection to work. But you can imagine how that can be an issue if the work venue is in a warehouse or a highly secure underground facility with no base stations or wifi networks. An offline mode would come into play and support such areas, ensuring timely and accurate clocking despite the lack of connections.

  • Seamless Integration

Lastly, time-clocking does not operate in an isolated environment. The data generated from the software may be needed to compute accurate payroll. Seamless integration with standard enterprise HRMS such as SAP SuccessFactors is essential to facilitate data transfer between systems.

To Bring Efficiency and Optimise Productivity.

For solutions that centre on the users’ smartphones to clock in, the premise even allows for a queueless manner of clocking in since there is no bottleneck around the one single device everyone has to check in from. Next, supervisors will have a more in-depth complete and instant visibility of time utilisation and people movement. Detailed reports and enterprises will benefit operationally from improved employee productivity and informed decisions by their supervisors.

With the vast amount of data generated by the time clock, it is vital and almost a necessity for companies to leverage those real-time insights to better their decision-making. Excellent time-clocking software makes reporting effortless without compromising on the tight security and privacy concerns.

Working with a single vendor has benefits that can’t be denied. But there are also bad things about working with a single vendor. You may be familiar with the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” 

It can feel like an all-in-one solution has tools for every job, like a Swiss Army knife, but none of them is suitable for the job. Especially when these all-in-one companies expand their breath via acquisitions instead of organic growth negating the perceived benefits of “seamless integrations.”

Even if they grew organically, the number of resources to support each feature could vary. One can expect more headcounts (and money) behind the cash cow product and perhaps just a team of one FTE and an intern to support a brand new feature to tick the checkbox.

Some Examples of Automated Time-Clocking Software

Photo 2: Buddy Punch 

Source: PC Tech Magazine

Buddy Punch initially struggled tracking time for over twenty employees across three different business locations using paper timecards and timesheets. It was time-consuming, unnecessarily complex, and error-prone; over and over again. The developers managed to build an application that not only solves all the issues but is also, at its core, intuitive and easy to use. Buddy Punch has, at the time of writing, received 639 reviews and 4.8 out of 5 stars on the popular software review site Capterra.

Photo 3: Clockify 

Source: Tech Round

The Tectonic Shift From Physical Biometrics Device to Geofencing-enabled Mobile Clock-ins 7 Clockify is a time clock app for small businesses and offers a whole range of features, including but not limited to Teams, Time Tracker, Timesheet, Reports and Dashboard. According to the article (Czerwonka, 2022), Clockify has 1570 reviews on Capterra, with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars.


Photo 4: CICO 

Clock-In Clock-Out (CICO) is a geofencing-enabled mobile app for employee time tracking. It makes time tracking easier and more accurate. It has native integration with SAP SuccessFactors and time management software, an easy rule engine, and a contactless smart time record. According to G2, a reviewer rated the app with 5 stars with the following feedback: Safety of employees, so they do not have to clock in and clock out using the common device installed at the door to enter.

Mode of Time Capture Comparison Table

Card-based Physical Biometrics Mobile based
Clock-in clock-out method Using a physical card Using a biometric capture system at the site. This is usually via fingerprint or facial recognition With an installed app, capture is done on the user’s mobile phone and may only be activated based on proximity to location
Suitable markets Smaller businesses Military sites and high confidentiality businesses Any businesses with employees that carry mobile phones
Cost At first, it's cheap, but in the long run, it costs you Costs more at first but saves money in the long run Costs more at first but saves money in the long run
Ease of Use Easy (until a human error occurs) Easy for most. If you are handling chemicals or performing rough work with your hands, your unique fingerprint pattern can degrade Easy
Security Low. Older card technology has also become a target for hackers using cloning technology to break encryption codes High High
Loss of access You are far more likely to lose one than say a mobile phone The likelihood of you losing your finger or your face is (thankfully) quite slim High
Offline use Yes No. Connectivity is needed. Good luck to underground bunker or high security site with no wifi Many modern mobile app offer an offline feature
Hygiene Slightly. The card you touch may come in contact with the system, which in turn may transmit to another card Definitely for fingerprint biometrics Zero possibility as all touches are done on users’ smartphone
Time to access With a single touch point, queue may form at peak period With a single touch point, queue may form at peak period Queue-less as access is done on individual’s smartphone


As technology becomes more and more a part of our personal and professional lives, more and more people will use digital systems that work well. Companies that don’t keep up with new technology risk losing their edge over competitors and making employees’ jobs harder by making them do manual work. 

Biometric or Geofencing time clocks are a very reliable way to keep track of employee attendance, automate payroll processing, and cut ongoing costs.

Beyond that, physical biometrics are costly, are not hygienic and lack process efficiency regarding real-time integration with underlying Time evaluation software for payroll processing. A mobile-based time capture may be a better way to become the new normal of time clocking or time capture.

About Rolling Arrays

Rolling Arrays has been driving SAP SuccessFactors-led HR Transformation since 2009. The company specialises in SF consulting, implementation, and support and also builds applications to enhance the utility of the SuccessFactors platform. It is committed to designing systems that help its customers to attract, develop and retain talented individuals. In 2021, Rolling Arrays was recognized as one of the top 75 fastest-growing companies in Singapore by The Straits Times & Statista.

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