What is NFC? Near Field Communication explained

Thanks to a certain high-profile product announcement out of Cupertino this week, a lot more people are now aware of NFC. That’s great, because public interest and consumer demand are essential to NFC adoption and growth.

Apple users will now be able to join the millions of smartphone users worldwide who are already using NFC to pay for purchases at stores and restaurants with a touch of their devices. These NFC neophytes will discover that the ease and convenience of NFC is habit-forming. But chances are, they are not yet aware of all the other things that make NFC great. For example:

  • NFC is based on industry standards. The technology behind NFC – 21 NFC Forum specifications –has a deep heritage in global standards bodies like the ISO. That means it’s rock-solid and industry-approved.
  • NFC is global. You can use your NFC-enabled phone for mobile payments in countries throughout the world.
  • NFC is secure. The NFC Forum has provided developers and manufacturers with a secure platform on which to build their products and services. Security measures such as encryption, PINs, secure elements, and biometric scans, such as the iPhone’s Touch ID, make NFC transactions safe. And NFC’s very close range (up to 4cm), makes it inherently secure.
  • NFC puts the user in control. The user initiates all actions with NFC, so your phone won’t be bombarded with unwanted wireless transmissions when you touch to pay. You — and only you — decide how, when and where to use it.
  • NFC is versatile. While the Apple announcement was focused largely on NFC for mobile payments, the full range and variety of potential NFC use cases is incredibly broad. They span everything from one-touch pairing of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices to exchanging digital business cards to tapping NFC tags on posters, train schedules, and product labels to easily access information.

What matters now is that more people are becoming familiar with– and enamored of — NFC’s intuitive, convenient one-touch interface. So while the Apple announcement may lead to a boom in NFC mobile payments, people’s use of NFC will not likely end there.