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RFID vs NFC: What’s The Difference between RFID and NFC

  • Mahesh Tiwari
  • Nov 24, 2023
  • RFID

NFC is a type of RFID technology. Both use radio signals to communicate between the tag and the reader. However, NFC only operates within the near field and has certain applications that can make it seem like a separate classification of AIDC technology.

AIDC technologies allow various industries to optimize essential processes like asset identification & tracking. Two such types of technologies are RFID and NFC. They both work on the principle of wireless communication using electromagnetic waves. But there are a couple of differences between them. They have unique properties that give them advantages and, in some cases, disadvantages. So, which is better?

To get the answer to that question, let’s talk about RFID Vs NFC technology.

What is RFID?

Radio Frequency Identification is a type of AIDC technology, also known as RFID. This technology is used to communicate data wirelessly with the help of radio signals. There are two components of an RFID system, a reader & tag. An RFID tag is attached/mounted on an item/asset/product & is programmed with the information about the said item. The reader uses an antenna to broadcast radio signals and create an interrogation field.

The field can be divided into two parts, namely: near-field, and far-field. Tags use different methods to communicate data in both these regions. These methods are known as inductive coupling and radiative coupling. When a tag is in a near field, it utilized inductive coupling. In this method of communication, the signals from the reader induce an electrical current in the RFID tag, using this energy the tag broadcasts a signal back to the reader. In the case of radiative coupling, the antennas on the tags reflect a small portion of the reader’s signals, this process is called backscattering. The signals used in this process have low energy, and that’s why doesn’t have a long range. Also, due to a lack of induced electric current, you cannot use far-field communication to reprogram a tag.

What is NFC?

Near Field Communication is a data communication protocol used in AIDC systems. As the name suggests, this phenomenon occurs within the near field of a reader. Similar to what we’ve discussed above, these systems communicate using inductive coupling. NFC is a subset of traditional RFID technology. NFC tags operate at 13.56 MHz and are considered HF tags. The core benefits of NFC are that it provides a measure of safety, as it can only operate at a maximum distance of 10 centimeters.

You can see the use of NFC technology in many fields that require a level of safety. Presently we use this technology in Employee Identification Cards, Debit/Credit Cards, etc. NFC readers are capable of reprogramming an RFID chip.

Key Differences Between RFID and NFC

Although NFC is a part of RFID technology, they have stark differences between them that make their applications different.



Radio Frequency Identification

Near Field Communication




They have a variety of operation ranges, the communication range of a traditional RFID system can range anywhere from a couple of centimeters to 100 meters.

NFC systems have a short range of communication. These tags have a maximum range of 10 centimeters.


Traditional RFID systems are only compatible with one-way communication, i.e., from the tag to the reader.

NFC systems allow bi-directional communication between the reader and the tag. This makes programming the tag possible.


Traditional RFID tags have a storage capacity of 512 bits.

NFC tags can have a storage capacity of up to 4 Kb.


RFID tags are commonly used for the purpose of asset tracking and inventory management. That’s why they need to have a longer read range.

NFC tags are primarily used for security access control like those in identification cards, bank cards, etc. Their inability to be read by anything farther than 10 cm, makes phishing them very difficult.

Read Speed

Traditional RFID can have read speeds of up to 1000 tags a second.

NFC tags operate on HF range and thus have a slower reading speed.


Should Businesses Use RFID or NFC?

The choice between RFID and NFC depends on several factors like application, facility size, nature of the product, etc. However, in general, if you are dealing with products/items, then you would be better off using RFID technology due to its range and speed. RFID systems are perfect for tasks like inventory management, asset tracking, theft alert, streamlining billing, etc.

On the other hand, NFC systems are perfect for applications where you have to deal with access control. For example, using traditional RFID chips in ID cards is pretty useless, as it would open the gate lock when there is a tag within 30 to 40 feet. This can easily give unauthorized personnel access to the facility. These tags can be used in public transportation like metro, corporate office entrances, etc.


Both RFID and NFC are part of the same technology, they are a type of AIDC system that allows for wireless communication between two systems. NFC is a type of RFID technology with unique characteristics & applications. They both have advantages & disadvantages over each other. There is no one winner, rather, they are both suitable for different applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Are RFID and NFC the same?

Ans - Yes, and no. Let me explain, RFID and NFC are the same, NFC is a type of RFID technology. Both use radio signals to communicate between the tag and the reader. However, NFC only operates within the near field and has certain applications that can make it seem like a separate classification of AIDC technology.

Q2. What is RFID used for?

Ans - The primary purpose of RFID is for asset identification & tracking. RFID tags attach to items and allow the user to be able to keep track of the movement of the item within a facility or throughout a supply chain.

Q3. Where is NFC used?

Ans - NFC technology is used in applications where you have to perform contactless/wireless communication between systems, but at a close range, like public transportation toll gates, debit cards, ID cards, etc.


Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Feb 13, 2023

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