What is Near Field Communication and How Does It Work?

Near Field CommunicationNear Field Communication, (NFC) is a form of contactless communication between two devices such as smartphones and tablets. The technology works by allowing users to simply wave one NFC device over another NFC compatible device to complete a transaction or data transfer. NFC facilitates the exchange of information between the two devices without the need for touching each other. It also eliminates the cumbersome process of a user having to go through the multiple steps required for pairing two devices, like when using other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

NFS technology has been around for quite some time. However, more people are becoming aware of it now, with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets into the mass market. Device manufacturers have also begun to make it a standard feature in most of the current generation smartphones and tablets. Near Field Communication technology is what is being used in things like smart cards, commuter cards, and print advertisements.

Near Field Communication technology works in two ways:

Two-way communication: In this scenario there are two devices, both of which can read and write to one another. E.g. using two Android smartphones to transfer data such as photos, music, video, links or contacts.

One-way Communication: This type of NFC technology has been around for quite some time. Here one device is powered (such as a credit card reader, computer card terminal or a smartphone) and can read and write on an NFC chip. This is what happens every time you swipe your commuter card on the terminal. The terminal powered by NFC subtracts the money from the balance written on your commuter

Think of NFC as a Bluetooth connection, but one that uses far less power compared to connect two devices. Considering smartphones are soon set to replace your wallet, commuter cards, ATM cards; it is imperative that the technology uses less power and puts the least drain on your phone’s battery life.

Another advantage of NFC over Bluetooth is that it doesn’t require you to go through the hectic pairing process: Turn on Bluetooth…Make your device discoverable… Search for Bluetooth devices…enter the passcode… This would be inconveniencing if you had to do that every time you want to pay when you are out shopping or paying for your commuter fee.

Near Field Communication can also work with Bluetooth devices.  For instance, when you want to play music from your mobile device to your Bluetooth speakers, just tap your phone to your speaker. The speakers will play music via NFC from your phone, and you won’t have to go through the complicated Bluetooth pairing process.

It is only a matter of time before mobile payment becomes mainstream, and NFC will be the vehicle to this future. Considering the number of reported cases of credit card frauds, it would be a good idea to find a technology solution that shield users.

Big retailers already have installed NFC-based contactless pay terminals, making mobile payment easier. Smartphone that are compatible with Google Wallet can use these terminals, so can iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.