Near field communication (NFC) is being a revolution in smartphone technology. NFC is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by bringing them into close proximity, usually no more than a few centimetres. Present and anticipated applications include contactless transactions, data exchange, and simplified setup of more complex communications such as Wi-Fi. Communication is also possible between an NFC device and an unpowered NFC chip, called a “NFC Tag”.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC builds upon RFID systems by allowing two-way communication between endpoints, where earlier systems such as contactless smart cards were one-way only. Since unpowered NFC “tags” can also be read by NFC devices, it is also capable of replacing earlier one-way applications. NFC standards cover communications 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.

NFC-Enabled SIM Cards for SmartPhones

The GSM Association has announced that a consortium of 45 major telcos have committed to support and implement SIM cards with NFC embedded in them. Included in the list of mobile operators are names like AT&T, Deutsche Telecom (T-Mo’s parent company), Vodafone, and Verizon. Along with several Asian companies, these heavy hitters are going to make SIM-based NFC a standard in the global market, making NFC transactions a reality whether people like it or not. China Mobile, a member of the consortium, already offers SIM-based NFC and will presumably lend its experience to the worldwide rollout.

Along with mobile payments, the GSMA will be pushing its partners to create mobile apps that use NFC for things like ticketing at concerts, hotel keycards, and vehicle ignition controls. There are already plans in the works to create coupon and loyalty programs centered around NFC activated consumer interactions.

Advantages and Applications of NFC in Mobile Devices

NFC devices can be used in contactless payment systems, similar to those currently used in credit cards and electronic ticket smartcards, and allow mobile payment to replace or supplement these systems. For example, Google Wallet allows consumers to store credit card information in a virtual wallet and then use an NFC-enabled device at terminals that also accept MasterCard PayPass transactions. Germany, Austria and few other countries have trialled NFC ticketing systems for public transport. And China is using it all over the country in public bus transport. In India NFC based transaction is being implemented in box offices for ticketing purposes.

  • Matching encrypted security code and transporting access key
  • Due to short transmission range, NFC-based transactions are possibly secure
  • Instant payments and coupon delivery using your handset, as we do with your credit card or debit card
  • Exchange of information such as schedules, maps, business card and coupon delivery in a few hundred milliseconds
  • Pay for items just by waving your phone over the NFC capable devices
  • Transferring images, posters for displaying and printing
  • Replaces Bluetooth and WiFi connections. NFC offers a low-speed connection with extremely simple setup, and could be used to bootstrap more capable wireless connections.
  • NFC Social networking. NFC can be used in social networking situations, such as sharing contacts, photos, videos or files, and entering multiplayer mobile games.
  • NFC-enabled devices act as electronic identity documents and keycards. As NFC has a short range and supports encryption, it may be more suitable than earlier, less private RFID systems.