What Is NFC? A Beginner’s Guide For 2023

what is nfc

The world over, we have seen a huge jump in the use of technology. In fact, the presence of technology has made our lives synchronized and smoothened daily operations. One such technology that we often hear about is NFC. This simple communication technology allows users to make secure NFC transactions, exchange digital content and connect electronic devices via NFC.

The global market size of Near Field Communication (NFC) has reached USD 23.10 billion in 2022 and is expected to increase at a CAGR of 14.8% from 2021 to 2028 reaching a USD 54.5 billion market in 2028.

These NFC transmissions are short-range and need the devices to be in close proximity to each other. Mostly this technology that allows devices to connect is used in contactless cards to make instant NFC payments. Let us have a look at everything you need to know about NFC, how it works, and its uses.

What is NFC, and How does it work?

NFC stands for Near Field Communication, which is a technology that allows smartphones to exchange information with another passive device. It also permits reading NFC-equipped cards over small distances. The technology is quite similar to the RFID tag, which is used in office access cards and keychain fobs.

NFC does not need to pass through various levels to finish the task. You do not require any manual pairing of the Android device or add passwords. All you have to do is place the smartphones with NFC close to each other. That is enough for the other mobile device to detect it and proceed with the completion of a transaction.

The NFC technology establishes a short-range network and exchanges the data via NFC through electromagnetic radio fields. The NFC tags could be both read and written. They usually contain 96 and 4096 bytes of storage. The technology needs two devices, one to send the signal and the other to receive it.

The two major specifications that are used for NFC technology are ISO/IEC 144443 and ISO/IEC 18000-3. The first specification is for defining the ID cards that store all the information like one found in NFC tags. The second specification is for the RFID communication used by the NFC devices. Both RFID and NFC work in tandem with each other.

nfc use in e-commerce

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

What can you do with Near-Field Communication (NFC)?

The NFC technology has been in practice for a long time. It finds the solution for a major pain point of payment processing. The contactless payment offered by NFC uses mobile for simplifying payments. The following industries use NFC as short-range wireless connectivity technology in various ways:

Retail Businesses

The retail industry uses NFC for contactless mobile and Android payments. Apart from that, NFC tags are used for sharing product information, offering discounts, and marketing campaigns.


The SOS features are present on almost all smartphones. The scanning of the Android smartphone gives information like medical history, raising the alarm in case of an emergency, etc. NFC tags present on medicines help healthcare providers check the prescriptions and dosage info.

Banking and Finance

Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and other mobile wallets are how the technology helps the sectors. Plus, the NFC tags are used as keys to lockers and deposit boxes.


The NFC tags can be used to scan items and check in while traveling. Scanning an NFC tag at the entrance of a restaurant can share its menu so you can decide on the dishes.

Sports activities

Athletes can use the NFC tags to find the location of their precious equipment like sports kits etc. The use of such tags is useful in areas where GPS is unable to work.

Employee control systems

Employees no longer need to manually log their arrival and departure times. The system also records where an employee was at a particular time, simplifying employee performance and tracking.


NFC tags are useful in the manufacturing industry as well. They help in identifying the different stages of a product’s manufacturing cycle. The unique identification numbers allotted allow them to manage the products in situations of return during warranty, replacement, maintenance, etc.

NFC tags uses

Examples of NFC Technology Uses

Nowadays, NFC finds acceptance through various mobile apps. Some other use cases of the technology are as follows:

Simplifying home processes

NFC tags can be used for various home-related tasks. This includes the following:

  • Controlling and modulating light fixtures
  • Unlock doors and control security systems
  • Program routines like updating shopping lists
  • Share your Wi-Fi password and other information with a select few

Sleep mode automation

Certain people are very particular about their sleeping. With NFC tags, they can close down Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other wireless connections. A simple NFC tag on the Android mobile is all that is needed to do the above.


There are certain tasks that people easily forget. Laundry is just one of them. You can keep the NFC tag near your dryer or washing machine. One tap on the NFC chip tag will choose the wash cycle, load details, etc. It could also set a timer to start the cycle whenever you want it to.

Control your alarms

We all need assistance to wake up in the morning. You can attach NFC tags to your bedside table. With that, you can enable your alarms, disable any sound systems, decrease the brightness, etc.

Safety and emergency communications

In case you have people who need assistance, an NFC tag could be helpful. You could keep the NFC tag at a place where these people can reach. Program a help message, and they just have to press the tag for the message to reach you. You could also add specific instructions with the tags like:

  • Call ambulance
  • Call 911
  • Send a Text message

NFC tags in the car

There are various ways in which near-field communication tags can help make your car trip better. Firstly, you can use them to control the lights, radio, etc. For instance, if your mobile phone is connected to the stereo, you can run apps like Spotify and play music of your choice. You could also track the speed, mileage, and distance traveled of the car on another NFC device.

Work environment

Sometimes, it is important to get some sort of solitude while working. You can disable sounds, auto-sync, and enable Wi-Fi with NFC connection tags. You can also personalize your NFC workspace with the NFC tags. Program your mobile, prompt the to-do list, open frequently used apps, etc. You also get embedded NFC chips in virtual business cards.

In the Gym

Sticking the NFC tags to workout wear or your gym bag. Get an idea of the workout of the day or play your preferred playlist and enjoy the workout session.

Secure online buying

Online purchases have often been associated with fraud and payment errors. NFC tags can be used to confirm their identity and make payments. Having this additional level of security would ensure that only authorized individuals can transfer the NFC data.

Benefits and Limitations of NFC Technology

The usage of NFC technology can be too extensive. It has already ventured into a lot of areas and has the potential to continue growing further. However, every technology comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. Let us quickly have a look at the same:

What is nfc


  • It is very convenient to make any payment. All you need is a smartphone, and you are sorted.
  • The NFC technology can be used in multiple applications. This includes banking, booking tickets, redeeming passes, etc.
  • The NFC stands to make life easier for both customers and enterprises
  • Helps in providing secured access to employees, students, etc. In certain situations, these access cards can interact with other objects sharing real-time information with other devices.
  • Offers better security than magnetic strip-based credit or debit cards. The usage of a pin adds another level of security to contactless payment cards.
  • There are no search and pair procedures in NFC functionality like Bluetooth and other methods.
  • The NFC technology does not need any special software.
  • There are no manual configurations and settings changes required
  • Near-field communication technology can also work compatible with existing RFID networks
  • Boosts customer satisfaction and improves brand reputation and productivity
  • NFC can detect forged documents, and thus, it reduces the chances of people hacking into your systems.
  • It replaces the need for manual data entry reducing the risk of human errors.


  • NFC reader device can work only in short distances like 10-20 cm
  • NFC capabilities offer very low data transfer rates, which are around 106, 212, or 424 Kbps
  • Expensive for a company to adopt an NFC card reader
  • Using NFC technology is not completely risk-free. With the rise in chances of mobile hacking, the probability of data breaches remains high.
  • Power consumption remains high in NFC-enabled devices
  • Not all Android mobiles come with an NFC tag reducing the scope of NFC mobile payments
  • There can be smartphone or tablet compatibility issues due to which data sharing cannot happen

NFC vs. Other Wireless Technologies

NFC security is compared with other wireless technologies like Bluetooth, RFID, etc. Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows data exchange between mobiles over short distances. The differences between both are quite stark:

NFC vs bluetooth and wifi
  • NFC can operate only at a distance of up to 4 cm. Whereas Bluetooth offers an operating range of up to 10 meters.
  • The longer the range, the more interference you will see in Bluetooth. On the other hand, if you use the NFC feature, you will face low chances of interference.
  • Bluetooth needs a manual setup to use the technology. You will need to enter a pin number and configure the settings. NFC is contactless technology and does not need any manual setting up. All you need are two NFC-compatible devices, and the other things are taken care of.
  • NFC card consumes less power than Bluetooth. Since it operates on a low-power radio transmitter, it does not affect the battery much.
  • NFC devices are compatible with RFID devices, whereas Bluetooth lacks the same.
  • NFC on your phone is more secure compared to Bluetooth. Even in crowded spaces, NFC can be used to make payments, whereas the same cannot be done with Bluetooth.

Apart from Bluetooth, Wi-Fi is another wireless communication technology that we are going to discuss here:

  • Wi-Fi offers a coverage range of up to 100 meters though it is also a two-way technology
  • The process of setting up is extensive
  • Through seamless, the Wi-Fi connection remains expensive as compared to the NFC feature on your smartphone.
  • The data rate of exchange is higher than NFC to work around 144Mbps


NFC is an evolution and so far has found application in various areas. However, the road to its success is not short. In the future use of NFC technology will continue to enter new arenas and revolutionize the way things are done. The only problem with the NFC features is that they are easy to overcome and will find solutions soon.

The use of NFC is starkly different from other short-range wireless technologies like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The level of convenience and NFC support remains a strong point that works in its favor. You just have to hold your phone, and your payment is done. All in all, the contactless NFC makes life easy and should continue to cross every hurdle in the future as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why would I use NFC on my phone?

NFC offers a very high level of convenience. Using a contactless card on the phone allows a person to simplify his life without the need to carry extra cards. It allows seamless payments, access in offices, power to control NFC-enabled devices, and much more. The level of security is high, and with no manual work, the NFC technology is a must to complete basic operations.

What is an NFC tag?

Near-field communication tags send radio waves and Android beams to activate the antennae of the receiving device or smartphone. The recipient would then validate this information at the payment terminal and complete the transfer of information. NFC chip tags offer multiple opportunities for businesses that want to digitalize their operations or improve accessibility.

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