Customer YubiStories: How a biopharmaceutical company solved NFC authentication with a YubiKey and wristband

March 1, 2021 2 minute read
pocketband with YubiKey 5 NFC on person's wrist

One of the greatest things about the YubiKey is that it can be used in virtually any environment and by any user. While we all know about the common user experience of plugging in your YubiKey then touching to authenticate, we often hear unique stories from our customers about how they used creativity to address a certain use case. 

We’re sharing the below story anonymously for confidentiality reasons, but this narrative is sure to be able to play across many different industries. 

This particular customer is in the biopharmaceutical industry, where they were faced with a challenge rolling out YubiKey MFA for use with PingID. They required MFA in a mobile restricted and sanitary lab environment where all workers were fully covered in personal protection equipment (PPE). Because of the PPE, authenticating with the YubiKey wasn’t a streamlined experience. Employees had to remove their PPE, plug in their YubiKey, authenticate by touch, scrub to sterilize, and ultimately put their PPE back on. This around-the-way authentication flow created a major impact to productivity and an estimated average of nearly 10 minutes lost for each time they needed to authenticate.  

The challenge was to figure out how to allow their staff to securely and quickly authenticate to their systems in a sanitized environment. 

The solution? Simple – create your own wearable YubiKey wristband that utilizes the NFC capabilities of the YubiKey 5 NFC. They successfully tested the YubiKey in a silicon wristband, specifically a Pocketband, with FIDO U2F over NFC to authenticate to PingID and perform SSO to other applications. The PocketBand allows the YubiKey to be stashed safely into the band itself, staying sterile, and most importantly, remaining conductive to NFC communications.

What was achieved? As you can see, this smart thinking allowed for easy, tap-and-go NFC-enabled authentication with the YubiKey. Physical touch or removal of PPE was no longer required, resulting in immediate time savings while reinforcing trust in accessing their systems with the highest level of hardware authentication required. 

We love to hear these types of stories. Do you have a unique YubiKey use case that you have solved in an interesting way? If so, please send us an email at to potentially be featured in our upcoming Customer YubiStories series.       

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