The future of NFC is now. Our credit cards are slowly being replaced, bus passes and train tickets are disappearing, and those paper based loyalty cards for high street coffee shops we all have… redundant! The future of NFC paints a picture, a future where the wallet, purse, paper ticket and pocket have all gone digital and live solely on your smartphone.
Welcome to Near Field Communications (NFC), a contactless, Wi-Fi style tech that is more than likely already on your smartphone, and could soon be a regular feature of your daily life.
How does NFC work?
At its core, it’s a short-range, low power wireless link evolved from radio-frequency identification (RFID) tech that can transfer small amounts of data between two devices held a few centimetres from each other. Unlike Bluetooth, no pairing code is needed, and because it’s very low power, no battery in the device being read.
By tapping your phone on a contactless payment terminal in a shop, train station or coffee shop is able to identify your account (and even your personal preferences, shopping habits and even your most frequently travelled route home) and takes payment through an app on your smartphone.
Passive NFC ‘tags’ on posters, in shops and on trains could contain a web address, a discount voucher, a map or a bus timetable that passers-by could touch their phones on to receive – or to instantly pay for absolutely anything.
NFC ‘tags’ can also be used in conjunction with mobile apps to serve information or to enhance user experience. There are so many applications for NFC that developing say smartphone and tablet apps that utilise this technology is becoming really popular. If you’re considering a mobile app for your company, contact Pipe & Piper and we’ll help develop something that’s truly unique.
“The SIM card in your mobile phone is a smart card identifying your account to the network,” says John Elliott, Head of Public Sector at Consult Hyperion, who’s worked on the Oyster Card. “On NFC phones, the SIM is being extended to act as the Secure Element that can hold other apps such as payment cards.”
NFC phones: which handsets have NFC?
A surprisingly huge number, largely because NFC has long been supported by the makers of Android handsets. Though Apple is yet to embrace NFC, flagship and mid-range handsets from the likes of Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, LG and Blackberry all include NFC.
The latter all feature BlackBerry Tag, a peer-to-peer feature in the BlackBerry 7.1 OS that allows users to share contact information, documents, URLs, photos and other multimedia content by tapping their BlackBerry smartphones together.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 OS supports NFC, too, so expect upcoming smartphones from Samsung, Nokia and HTC to be compatible.
The full list, includes almost all Android tablets too.
NFC is still in its trial phase, but it’s got a big future. ABI Research predicts that 1.95 billion NFC-enabled devices will ship in 2017, largely in smartphones, though NFC will also enter the living room. WiFi routers will swap passwords for a simple ‘tap’ from any smartphone, tablet or games console, with 395 million consumer electronics devices to ship in 2017 – in other words, NFC will be in everything.