What is NFC and How Does it Work? A Beginner’s Guide
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Most smartphones these days are equipped with Near Field Communication technology, better known as NFC. If you’ve ever used a mobile payments app like Samsung Pay or Google Pay, you already know what is NFC. In a nutshell, it is a proximity-based wireless communication standard. Unlike Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, however, NFC interaction is limited to an extremely short range.
Even though NFC may seem a bit lackluster on paper because of its short range, it’s still a pretty convenient feature that many of us take for granted every day. So in this article, let’s take a quick look at what NFC is and how it works.
What is NFC(Near Field Communication)?
Near-field communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless technology that makes your smartphone, NFC android tablet, wearables, payment cards, and other devices even smarter. Near-field communication is the ultimate in connectivity.
With NFC, you can transfer information between devices quickly and easily with a single touch—whether paying bills, exchanging business cards, downloading coupons, or sharing a research paper.
How Does Near-Field Communication Technology Work?
NFC technology works by combining four key elements: an NFC microchip within a device, which acts as an antenna and receiver; a reader/writer that scans and allows NFC devices to access data; an NFC software application on the device that can use data received by the NFC chip; and an information or communications service provider (ISP) that manages all device communications that occur through the ISP.
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NFC is an extension of RFID technology, which relies on radio waves to track goods, supplies, and merchandise. NFC replaces RFID chips with microchips that have the ability to store and encrypt information. While RFID devices are passive and so lack the ability to access information, NFC-enabled devices do.
Application mode of NFC
An NFC-enabled device can operate under three different modes: reader/writer mode, peer-to-peer mode, and card emulation mode.
Read / Writer Mode
A reader / writer is an NFC-enabled device that manages and coordinates information sent between and received by two or more NFC devices and a handful of other devices that do not yet feature NFC technology. Examples of reader/writers include point-of-sale (POS) systems, cell phones, tablets, and RFID-enabled cards. In reader/writer mode, NFC-enabled devices communicate and exchange data based on instructions from the reader/writer.
This P2P mode enables two NFC-enabled devices to exchange information directly. For example, a peer-to-peer device may exchange data with an RFID-enabled device or some other type of NFC device without the assistance of a reader/writer.
Card Emulation Mode
In this mode, an NFC-enabled device functions as an NFC payment card or virtual credit/debit card. When an NFC-enabled device is activated in this mode, it emulates a payment card or other physical card in card readers, magnetic-stripe readers, and contactless card readers used to make payments directly from your mobile device.
Benefits of NFC
NFC has several real-world benefits, including the following:
- Increases operational efficiency for payment processors;
- Ensures more security than traditional credit cards for payments;
- Allows users to choose from multiple cards dynamically;
- Difficult to intercept NFC communications from a distance;
- Ease of use for consumers in paying for goods;
- Simplifies access to back-end information;
- Allows simple setup of new connections compared to other wireless protocols.
NFC devices have been used by many mobile phone manufacturers. NFC technology is mainly applied in the following five categories on mobile phones.
(1) Touch and Go, such as access control management, tickets, and tickets, etc., the user can store the device with the ticket or access control password close to the card reader, and it can also be used for logistics management.
(2) Touch and Pay, such as contactless mobile payment, the user can make payment by placing the device close to the POS machine embedded with an NFC module and confirming the transaction.
(3) Touch and Connect, such as connecting two NFC devices for peer-to-peer (Peer-to-Peer) data transmission, such as downloading music, transferring pictures, and exchanging contacts.
(4) Touch and Explore. Users can connect NFC mobile phones to smart public phones or posters with NFC functions on the street to browse traffic information, etc.
(5) Load and Touch, the user can receive or download information through the GPRS network for functions such as payment or access control. As mentioned above, the user can send a short message in a specific format to the mobile phone of the housekeeping attendant to control the housekeeping attendant’s entry and exit from the house permission.