“NFC is a short-range wireless communication technology which operates on high-frequency radio waves, particularly 13.56 MHz”
NFC technology is based on RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and it became a familiar technology with newspaper headlines in the year of 2002. Sony and Philips were the co-inventors of NFC in 2002 and in 2007, Nokia 6131 became the first phone with NFC support. After Nokia, another big MNC Samsung showed their interest by developing the world’s first NFC-enabled Android Smartphone Samsung Nexus-S. Later they started to work on developing a mobile payment system in collaboration with VISA. Smartphone manufacturing company Apple Inc. also implemented NFC Support on their iPhones for digital payments and data transferring purposes.
What is NFC?
NFC (Near-Field Communication) is a short-range wireless technology that establishes the connection between two devices. NFC authenticates to share some details like online transactions and small files, It can also share some links (Instagram account link, contacts, etc.).
NFC extends the technology of RFID and contactless features, enabling more dynamic features on smartphones(like Apple Pay and Google Pay). NFC helps a single smartphone to load multiple cards into it. A real-life implementation of NFC is opening the car doors where we can use a smartphone as a sender and a car as a receiver to establish a secure ecosystem. Once the authentication process is completed, the doors will open automatically.
What is an NFC tag?
An NFC Tag is a small electronic device that can store and share information with NFC-enabled devices. It uses radio waves (13.56MHz) to send signals and share information with other NFC devices. The operating frequency of NFC technology is quite less than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, other short-range communication standards that operate on Giga hertz frequencies.
These tags are small in size as they do not have any battery support. They can store small amounts of data including URLs, texts, commands, or contacts. The NFC tags are easy to use. They are versatile and useful in various applications in real life. NFC tags are also cost-efficient as they can be programmed and reprogrammed easily.
These features of NFC tags make them a flexible and convenient way to share information securely.
What are the various modes of NFC?
NFC operates in different modes, and they have their own set of functionalities.
1. Reader/writer mode
2. Peer-to-peer mode
3. Card emulation mode
In this mode, an NFC-supported smartphone or tablet works as a reader/writer. These devices can read passive data emitted from NFC tags (for Contactless payment) as well as write data on them.
Peer-to-peer mode establishes a secure connection between two NFC-enabled devices for communication. Peer-to-peer mode helps to exchange data between the devices. Smartphones can share data and contact information. Real-life implementations of this mode on smartphones are Android Beam on Android devices and AirDrop on iPhones.
Card emulation mode
Card emulation mode simulates the smart card into a smartphone so that one can use the phone for payments and access control. It is a secure technology that helps to make credit and debit card transactions at the physical point of sale (POS) terminals.
What are NFC payments, and how do they work?
NFC is easy to use, NFC for mobile payment systems is similar to the traditional card with a magnetic stripe. Many card readers accept payments through NFC as they are NFC-supported. When these NFC-supported card readers initiate transactions via a point-of-sale (POS) system, they continuously send signals and search for any NFC-enabled payment device. The reader will detect an NFC-enabled payment device through the antenna. After finding the device, the reader and device communicate and share the payment info, to process the transaction.
What are the limits/challenges of NFC?
1. NFC is for now limited to a short range of communication, which limits the users from long-distance communication.
2. NFC tags are passive devices; these tags rely on the active device’s power.
3. Generally, NFC is a secure technology for short-range interactions but it can be vulnerable. So, proper and regular security updates are required.
4. NFC tags have a limited amount of storage. In the long run, it can be a demerit for the type and amount of the information to be stored.
5. The NFC transaction can fail by metal objects if the card reader is placed near any metal object. Another scenario is if any electronic device is emitting electromagnetic waves causing communication errors.
What is the future scope of NFC?
NFC is a technology that is continuously evolving day by day. It plays a vital role in simplifying the daily tasks of human beings and helps to improve security while establishing communication between devices. Implementing the NFC device depends upon factors like Security measures and how the users are going to accept it.
Some key areas where NFC can play a significant role in the future are Contactless Access Control, Public transportation, Gaming and Entertainment, Wearables, Education, Environmental Monitoring, Tourism, etc.
To conclude, NFC is a short-range wireless communication technology that operates on high-frequency radio waves, particularly 13.56 MHz. As a short-range technology, NFC is very useful in secure online payments, short-range data transfer, access control (smart cards), smart ticketing, etc.
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