What is NFC?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014.

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a set of standards relating to a short range wireless technology that enables portable devices to interact using electromagnetic radio fields in order to share data. Smartphones are the most prevalent implementation of active NFC devices. If your phone has NFC as a feature it can be used to transfer data to other phones or to NFC readers.

Why NFC?

As NFC technology is a type of radio-frequency identification (RFID), it can send information by using radio waves in the same manner as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. NFC, however, is much more power efficient and can be used to induce electric currents within passive components such as NFC stickers and tags. Active NFC devices can also communicate with each other; examples include smartphones, transport card readers and touch payment terminals.

Contactless payment is a much discussed implementation of NFC technology. This use case sees payment information stored in a secure element (SE), where the smartphone can then connect with a contactless-enabled payment terminal to make a transaction. This enables NFC technology to support numerous innovative services such as ticketing, retail, vouchers and loyalty.

NFC Ecosystem

NFC usage is increasing globally, but in order for it to be successful, organizations need to co-operate with other stakeholders in the NFC ecosystem. This includes mobile network providers, banks and service providers who are now working together to achieve this. As many of these partners have never worked together before, there are many commercial and technical intricacies that need to be overcome.

In 2013, Bell ID released its Secure Element in the Cloud. By moving the SE to a remote environment (the cloud), the costs and complexities of managing a physical SE can be bypassed. Late in 2013, Android confirmed that its latest operating system – Android KitKat – supported this capability, referred to as host card emulation (HCE).

Regardless of the implementation model selected, it is clear that NFC technology has a lot to offer and the market will continue to make investments to ensure it reaches its full potential. Interested in learning more about launching and managing NFC solutions? Watch our videos or visit our website.

Rambus Host Card Emulation