Since its inception in the Nokia 6131 phone in 2006, Near Field Communication (NFC) has become more and more popular over the years, because it has made data transfers between devices easier than ever. NFC is a type of short-range wireless technology that works by allowing users to transfer data via interacting electromagnetic radio fields instead of using technologies such as Bluetooth. In most cases, physical touch is necessary between devices to maintain security. Here are just a few ways that NFC technology could prove to be the next big thing in an ever-changing digital world.
Uses for NFC Technology
Three main uses of NFC technology are payment transactions in mobile phones, exchange of contact information, and, of course, marketing. Users can pay for gas at the pump by simply tapping their phone against a payment system, as long as the system supports the technology. NFC also facilitates the sharing of contact information with others, eliminating the need to type the details into your phone. And digital marketing is another application for this technology. For example, you can tap your NFC-enabled phone against an NFC-supported movie poster to learn more about the movie.
NFC and Making Payments
While sharing contact information and marketing are certainly major aspects of NFC, by far the most common use of this technology for making payments. While some may not necessarily see the usefulness of NFC over tapping their credit cards to pay for goods and services, NFC takes this ability further by allowing users to tap their smartphones instead of digging around for their wallets. Another big NFC benefit is that it enables users to store loyalty cards, coupons, tickets, and boarding passes on their smartphones and avoid the paper clutter that accompanies carrying hard copies of these items.
Where to Use NFC Technology
If you have already gotten your hands on an NFC-enabled smartphone, you probably want to know where you can use this technology. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know how many NFC “tags” are currently on the market, and it is unclear how many retailers can accept NFC payments from your smartphone. However, Google Wallet allows you to pay at some major retailers such as Macy’s, Radio Shack, Old Navy, and CVS.
While you may be wondering how secure your information could be when it is as easy to share as tapping your smartphone, NFC technology actually has several layers of security in place, depending on your smartphone’s hardware. When you link your smartphone to your credit or debit card, your phone stores an encrypted form of the data in a small part of the phone’s hardware. In some cases, this is in the SIM card, but it could be in other areas, too.
When you make a payment using NFC, you also have to type in a PIN to authorize the payment, further preventing fraud. If you are unfortunate enough to have your NFC phone stolen, you can easily freeze or disable your payment account online. You can also contact your credit card companies and inform them of the issue, so they can cancel your cards, just as if you had lost your wallet.
While many people think that NFC technology is the next big thing in the world of digital payment systems, industry experts suggest that it is still several years away from becoming the norm.
Terry Montrose is a freelance technology blogger. He was a wide range of interests, from NFC technology to Gulf Land Structures and Offshore Living Quarters.