NFC application

Developing a successful NFC application

NFC applications

Let's look at what are the key success factors on the side of the smartphone application and mobile ecosystem.

Indeed, the experience users have with the NFC technology equally depends on the physical implementation (range, tag location, etc.) as well as with the software application.

NFC still being new to most consumers, they expect an instant “tap and connect” experience which also depends on the software implementation.

NFC technology offers two different ways for you to strengthen the link with your consumers: Instant “Tap & Connect” and Consumer Brand app.

Instant “Tap & Connect”

NFC Tap & Connect

You can leverage the use cases pre-defined by NFC Forum and built-in to NFC-enabled smartphones. Simply tapping to the tag will trigger a connection without having to download and install a mobile app.

The underlying technology, NDEF (NFC Data Exchange) can be configured to be a URL, vCard, poster etc. With NDEF technology, typical uses cases include browsing to a website, calling or storing a phone number, saving a vCard also known as VCF (Virtual Contact File), using social media, etc.

Moreover, a single NDEF configuration can be built with different several use cases, called records. Multiple records are not uniformly managed by all NFC smartphones, so to avoid an unfriendly experience, we recommend filling in the first record only. (We do not recommend using the multi-record NDEF function yet).

Consumer Brand app

For an enhanced consumer experience, you can decide to create your own mobile app (called also a native app), taking advantage of the benefits of NFC such as direct link to consumers.

The mobile app lets you send proprietary commands to the tag, that only this tag can understand and reply to. In this case, NFC is an easy and fast way to communicate with the tag, allowing many different requests.

Plenty of uses cases are then possible: reading or writing to a specific memory area of the tag, verifying a digital signature, encrypting data etc.

Applications are then unlimited: product identification and authentication for brand protection, consumer engagement, anti-theft, asset tracking, and more.

In addition to these 2 ways

Web apps can be used to add NFC capability to your brand’s webpage: A web app is an NFC module embedded inside a webpage authorizing NFC instructions and avoiding having to develop a native application.

ST does not recommend this way as it is still in an experimental phase (limited platform support, etc.).

Another way to benefit from NFC technology on a mobile phone is by using App Clips. Before downloading an entire mobile app for iOS14 (and recent), the App Clip method allows the user to access to the app’s main function without fully installing it: light and fast, the user can then discover the app, without having to log on or create an account. Obviously, the user can still install the full app if he wants to.

Methods of data management using NFC

NFC data management

Instant “Tap & Connect” versus Brand native app

NFC instant tap connect

The ST25TV series, as NFC Forum certified products, support all of the above methods, offering a wide range of implementation options.

Moreover, if you select the instant “Tap & Connect” way, the ST25TV, thanks to its “Augmented NDEF” feature, enables the access to specific data without the need of a mobile app: tamper detection, tap counter or unique serial number of the chip are included in the NDEF URL that is natively decoded by your smartphone.

This way, the user will be able to easily identify and authenticate their product.

Will you need Internet access?

Advantages of network access: One of the strongest benefits of using a smartphone as an application platform is the ability to conveniently use it for a wide range of transactions using a single device.

In the marketing campaign use case, NFC tags redirect the users towards web content through a network; most of the time the user will need some sort of network access.

As examples, social networking, communicating with friends, sharing information, and gamification are aspects that also must be considered in your strategy.

A digital signature tag allows applications to verify the authenticity of a product and to provide protection against counterfeiting throughout the supply chain. The process is based on interactions with a website host and therefore requires network access.

ST25TV chips embed a dedicated feature, the TruST25 digital signature, that guarantees the integrity of products and authenticates their origin.

What if there is no network data access?

NFC no network

Your NFC application can offer a wide variety of information without any network access but with the use of a native app.

A product can be identified by just reading the tag, to check the origin and provide goods traceability. For instance, the tag can contain information on a bag design, how the brand only selects sustainable materials, and details on the exact factory where the goods were made.

So even off-line, you can use NFC to provide consumers with information about your brand product such as:

  • Traceability information
  • Check & update product history
  • Ingredients / materials (such as nutrition facts or potential allergens)
  • Brand contact information
  • Verify the product authenticity and origin
  • Activate voucher upon purchasing
  • Verify if the product has been tampered with
  • Call me / text me function for customer support
  • Personalize the tag

ST offers a wide range of NFC tags with up to 8Kbyte of user memory, enabling users to store information for off-line access.

This page is an extract of a dedicated Whitepaper

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