What Is NFC and All You Need to Know About Near Field Communication

NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a set of communication protocols that allow two electronic devices to communicate with each other over a distance of 4cm or less. This technology operates through inductive coupling, which uses antennas present on both devices to send and receive signals via radio waves.

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a type of wireless technology that enables communication between two electronic devices over a distance of 4 cm or less.

It operates in the globally available unlicensed radio frequency ISM band at 13.56 MHz and offers a low-speed connection through a simple setup that can be used to bootstrap more capable wireless connections. Like other “proximity card” technologies, NFC is based on inductive coupling between two antennas present on NFC-enabled devices, such as a smartphone and a printer, communicating in one or both directions. The NFC standards cover communication protocols and data exchange formats, and are based on existing radio-frequency identification (RFID) standards including ISO/IEC 14443 and FeliCa. The standards include ISO/IEC 18092 and those defined by the NFC Forum. The GSMA group also defined a platform for the deployment of GSMA NFC Standards within mobile handsets.

The ISO/IEC 18000-3 air interface standard is used for data transfer at rates ranging from 106 to 424 kbit/s, replacing earlier proprietary technologies. Secure communication can be enabled with encryption algorithms, and NFC also offers simplified setup for more complex wireless connections like Wi-Fi. NFC-enabled devices can be utilized with application software to read electronic tags or make payments when connected to an NFC-compliant system.

NFC-enabled portable devices can be provided with application software, for example to read electronic tags or make payments when connected to an NFC-compliant system, such as contactless payment systems, electronic ticket smart cards, and transit passes. NFC offers a reliable and secure wireless connection, particularly when one of the connected devices has internet connectivity, allowing the other to exchange data with online services.

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NFC is based on RFID technology and offers a simple and straightforward method for communications between electronic devices over a short distance of a few centimeters. Although the range is limited to a few centimeters, standard plain NFC is not protected against eavesdropping and can be vulnerable to data modifications. Nonetheless, NFC is a useful feature that is quickly becoming standard on most modern smartphones and can be used in various applications, including contactless payments and data exchange, making it a convenient and essential technology to know about in today’s interconnected world.

Apart from the applications in commerce and payment systems, NFC has other applications such as bootstrapping other wireless connections like Wi-Fi, social networking for sharing contacts, text messages, photos, videos, or files, and identification and access tokens, for example, in passports, ID cards, and access badges. NFC can also be used in car keys, fare cards, and login cards for increased security and privacy compared to less secure RFID systems.

Proximity Payment Innovation

Proximity payments are becoming increasingly frequent, and although the technology is exploited by criminals, contactless cards and digital wallets are more practical ways to conduct transactions. The “magic” behind this method is NFC, or Near Field Communication.

The NFC Forum is the organization responsible for standardizing this technology, which is part of the daily lives of millions of people around the world. This week, the group revealed that it intends to make NFC even more powerful, so that proximity payments are made at distances up to six times greater.

Today, it is necessary to approach the compatible card or smartphone about 5 millimeters away from the machine for the payment to be made. The goal of the NFC Forum; a consortium made up of Apple, Google, Huawei, Qualcomm and other companies; is to allow proximity payment to work within 3 inches of the machine.

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One of the advantages of increasing range would be to decrease the accuracy required to align the card or smartphone with the machine, avoiding communication problems. According to the consortium, a modest increase in the distance supported would already be enough to make contactless transactions faster and easier.

NFC has become an essential technology in mobile devices, and all modern smartphones now support NFC chips and applications. With the rise of contactless services like Apple Pay and other mobile payment solutions, NFC is a growing and popular technology that will continue to revolutionize the way we interact with our devices and the world around us.

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