nfc technology

NFC Technology - Essentials & Insights

NFC (Near Field Communication) is a reliable technology which can maximize user experience when efficiently integrated.

Unfriendly experiences encountered by early implementers are easy to prevent if you know the right things to do. In that way, the NFC technology can unfold to its full potential for the user instead of discouraging them.

Using NFC technology must offer benefits to the user, not discourage them from using it.


What is NFC?

Background on NFC Technology

Based on the 13.56 MHz wireless communication protocol, the NFC technology allows wireless communication between two NFC-compliant devices up to 10 centimeters apart.

Very convenient, this connection does not rely on Wi-Fi, 4G, LTE or similar technologies, and it doesn't cost anything to use: no need for the user to be skilled, does not need batteries, does no emit RF waves in the absence of a reader (it is a passive technology), NFC is within range everyone’s range thanks to the massive deployment of NFC in smartphones.

The NFC Forum, the industry consortium promoting NFC and devices compliance, helps to ease and standardize NFC usage for consumers.

According to the NFC Forum, at the beginning 2020, a quarter of the planet’s inhabitants – two billion people — had an NFC-enabled device. Approximately 64 NFC-enabled devices are produced every second. These devices are usually smartphones fitted with NFC technology.

Many sectors are using NFC

This image below shows some of the many sectors using NFC technology and their applications.

main NFC applications 

Giving life to a brand

Bringing digital life to everyday consumer goods becomes possible when approaching an NFC-enabled smartphone to an NFC tag located on the product, and then opens a great world of possibilities: website, phone number, social media, loyalty, coupon delivery, deals, contest registration, product identification, etc.

The NFC technology can also be used to guarantee the integrity of products and authenticate their origin in applications and use cases including:


What are the basics behind NFC technology?

NFC technology is based on a near-touch or tap experience.

The user brings his smartphone close to the touchpoint which embeds the tag to trigger an action on the user’s smartphone. An NFC tag can automatically launch an application on the smartphone and often connects to the Internet for additional information via a mobile network or a local Wi-Fi.

Typical steps for engaging with an NFC tag

Typical steps for engaging with an NFC tag

NFC operating modes

nfc operating modes

Depending on the application, NFC technology has different modes of operation:

  • Reader mode
  • Card emulation mode
  • Peer-to-peer mode
  • Charging mode
Learn about the benefits of integrating NFC Reader+Tag solutions (R+T) in your products

FAQ about NFC technology

What is NFC technology?

Near Field Communication, or NFC, is a wireless technology that lets two devices connect when they are brought within a few centimeters of each other. NFC makes use of radio frequency identification (RFID) to transmit data. It follows protocols set by the NFC Forum, an industry group managing standards.

The great advantage of NFC is that it is very simple to use - just tap or wave devices together. No need for manual pairing. This makes it great for mobile payments, quickly sharing contacts or links and other tasks. While payments are the most common use today, NFC has many other applications too. It can be used to pair headphones, access public transit or share files.

How does NFC actually work?

NFC relies on a combination of two distinct technologies – Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC). RFID refers to the technology that enables the reader or writer to detect the other device within its range. NFC refers to the protocols and standards developed by the NFC Forum that ensure the devices can actually communicate with each other. Together, these two technologies form the foundation of any successful NFC transaction.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology
Radio frequency identification (RFID) works on a reader-writer principle. A reader or writer is typically attached to a smartphone or payment card. The reader sends out an electromagnetic field in a specific direction. Any device within range of this field will detect this signal and respond back with the appropriate data in accordance with the set protocol. It is through this back and forth communication process that the reader or writer extracts the required information.
Near Field Communication Protocols and Standards
The second component of NFC technology is the protocols and standards developed by the NFC Forum. These standards ensure that all compatible devices can correctly interpret each other's messages, allowing them to carry out successful transactions. One of the latest versions of these standards is called Wireless Charging Specification 2.0 (WLC 2.0), allowing wireless charging by enabling a single antenna in an NFC-enabled device to manage both communications and charging.

What are examples of applications using NFC technology

NFC technology is being utilized in many different ways, including for payments, data transfer, access control, and authentication.

Payments & Transactions
The most well-known use cases for NFC are payments and other financial transactions. Many banks have released credit cards with embedded NFC chips that allow users to make contactless payments simply by tapping their card against a reader or writer.
Data Transfer & Sharing
In addition to payments and financial transactions, NFC can also be used for other types of data transfer and sharing. Users can easily share photos, music files, contact lists, and other types of data between two NFC-enabled devices simply by tapping them together. This makes it quick and easy to send and receive files without the need for an internet connection.
Access Control & Authentication
NFC is also useful for access control and user authentication. Many companies use NFC tags to control access to certain areas of their premises, such as conference rooms or computer centers. Additionally, NFC can be used to securely store information such as passwords and user credentials. Learn more about Secure NFC solutions.

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