The rise of contact-based payments has brought more and more uses for NFC technology, which has been present in our smartphones for quite some time now, but What is NFC?
You may be familiar with Near Field Communication, if you have tried using it for the pairing process of some Bluetooth devices or if you have seen people tapping their phones to get to the stations in subway systems, and we will explain ”What is NFC?’ in the following lines.
What is NFC?
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology built into modern smartphones, computers, and other consumer electronics. It allows transferring data between devices that are physically close to each other without an internet connection.
Active devices can send and receive data, whether it’s another active NFC device or another passive one. Smartphones are the most usual form of active NFC devices, but other examples include public transport card readers and touch payment terminals. On the other hand, passive NFC devices have tags embedded in newer credit cards that can send pieces of information to other near-field communication devices without needing a power source of their own. However, they do not possess any information sent from different sources and cannot connect to other passive components, just like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and other wireless signals.
The first major benefit of NFC is the quick syncing of data between devices; for example, if you have a smartphone and laptop, calendar and contact information can automatically be synced between the two. This type of sharing, NFT, was implemented with HP’s Web OS devices, such as the touchpad to share web pages and other data using Bluetooth communications.
Another use for NFC is, of course, digital payments, which is probably the most well-known use, examples include Apple Pay, Google Pay, Ali Pay, Samsung Pay, and more, but an NFC device with a compatible payment software is used at a vending machine, cash register, or another mobile device even you can simply tap your card or your phone to make a payment. NFC also powers transportation cards such as beep cards, and it is one of the biggest and probably the earliest uses of this technology.
Some railway systems in countries like Japan, Singapore, and the UK even support mobile-based NFC payments and NFC transportation cards. Some Bluetooth speakers are also equipped with a Near Field Communication chip to allow you to connect your smartphone to the device rapidly. Sony’s premium portable Bluetooth Speakers are one such example.
Why do we Need NFC?
Now, why do we need NFC when things like Bluetooth already exist. First of all, the Bluetooth devices must be paired first to communicate, which makes it more difficult for two devices to transmit data quickly. Another issue is a range; unlike Bluetooth, NFC does not require manual pairing or device discovery to transfer data.
A connection is automatically started when another NFC device is detected within close range, usually involving some contact between the two devices; once within range, though, the two devices instantly send prompts to the user and communicate without any hassle. This also keeps the power consumption very low, and it can help with security as well as it is more difficult for a third-party scanner to intercept that data.
There may be more uses for Near Field Communication than we are aware of. We may not even know that some things we take for granted actually are made effortless thanks to this technology. So, whenever you need to tap something to make a payment, remember that this tiny chip on your phone or in your card is what makes your contactless payment possible. You can visit NFC Forum to learn more details about NFC’s and its usage areas.