Research shows potential of NFC in helping homeowners manage their keys more securely

New consumer research conducted by UK home insurer Esure provides some fascinating insight into the way that British consumers manage their household keys — and throws light on the potential of NFC phones, with their ability to store electronic versions of keys and update them over-the-air, to improve the way in which consumers manage their home security.


The research found that:

  • The average Brit owns or carries a total of nine keys but has no idea what at least three of them are for. 27% of those polled said that they own between 10 and 15 different keys, with a further 9% possessing 21 or more separate keys.
  • 20% keep the keys to their old home after moving but only 30% change the locks when moving into a new home.
  • 20% of homes have a key hidden within ten feet of the front door. The most common hiding place is beneath a rock in the garden, with 13% of Brits admitting to employing this tactic, followed by plant pots (12%), underneath door mats (10%) and even under car tyres (7%).
  • 12% don’t change their locks after having their keys stolen and a further 11% don’t change their locks after losing their keys — even though 5% have a tag carrying their home address attached to their keys.

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2 comments on this article

  1. NFC goes over the air, which is a weakness right there. It’s also so far ill-understood as in the general public isn’t familiar with its failure modes and how to deal with them, and requires electricity to function. Simple metal keys, on the other hand, are very well understood, don’t require power to function, will function ten or twenty years down the road no sweat, and so on, and so forth.

    If I’m to use electronic keys I want physical contact to keep the possibility for snooping low by the simplest expedient, and I would expect mixed electronic/mechanical operation with automatic mechanical fallback when, not if, the electronics don’t function somehow. That doesn’t necessarily have to go for all keys in a key system, but must work that way for some key keys, and nevermind the pun.

    But the thing is, with very little care people can shed the keys they no longer need, or even fit their home with a set of matching locks so they need less keys. And they’re not doing that. Not even when they have that bundle pass through their fingers multiple times every day.

    As an IT systems designer I’ll gladly prescribe a physical system if that’s most appropriate. What is important is that systems work, not that they’re so bleeding edge you can’t use them without cutting yourself.

    I don’t think NFC is going to magically clean up no longer needed or revoked keys then. So I say, this piece is poorly done NFC propaganda–the numbers don’t even back the NFC-as-a-saviour assertion. Keep looking for that killer app.

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