What Is NFC & How It Works: Everything About NFC!

You might have seen people pay using their credit card by tapping, pairing a Bluetooth speaker by tapping on it with their phones. Ever wondered what technology is being used behind it? It’s Near Field Communication (NFC) which is used behind all these things. NFC-enabled devices create a small field using radio waves to transfer information. I have described it below in detail.

What Is NFC?

Near Field Communication is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that offers low-speed and simple connections. NFC is based on a radiofrequency field (RF) using the base frequency of 13.56 MHz. It’s designed to make the exchange of data between two devices simpler by just a single gesture. With wireless connectivity, we are able to make ourselves free from swiping, signing, entering long passwords, etc. It has been even used in smartphones for providing additional features like wireless charging, tap and pay, file sharing, etc. 

How to Check Whether My Phone has NFC

There are two easy ways to find out whether your phone is NFC compatible. The first one involves going to Settings, then selecting Bluetooth & Device Connections (may vary depending on device). If you are able to see NFC with an on/off button then your phone is compatible.

Check availability of NFC in your phone

The second step simply involves searching on the internet “Is there NFC on My Phone instead of “My Phone ” type the model of your phone.

How It Works

NFC enables two devices to communicate with each other when in close range without getting connected with any type of cable, thus it reduces the hassle of finding, connecting cables. There are mainly two ways or you can say modes NFC devices exchange data depending upon their types

Active: Both the devices i.e initiator device and receiver/target device alternatively generate their own RFs. One device has to stop transmission in order to receive data from the other device. This mode requires NFC devices to possess power supplies. 

Passive: The initiator device produces RF while the target/receiver device transfers data through it. The target device may draw power from the field produced by the initiator device in order to operate. 

Uses of NFC

We are living in the era of wireless technology and we know that one day IOT will be fully operational for all people and NFC can be really helpful in reaching that goal. Currently, we can see that NFC is being used for payment with Cards, Smartphones, NFC Tags, Android Beam, and pairing with other devices. In the future, we might get to see other uses of NFC. I have explained below how NFC is being utilized. 

Payment: NFC helps to make payments easy and quick, nowadays companies like Visa, Mastercard have NFC chips inside their credit cards. You just have to tap and pay and for a large amount of transactions you would have to enter your pin. However, it isn’t that safe when compared to paying with an NFC-enabled smartphone. Smartphones that have NFC can pay using services like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, etc. It is more secure because you have to launch the payment application and enter your pin and amount. The drawback of NFC enabled cards is that if someone gets to the POS terminal near you that will allow them to make transactions without your notice. 

Using NFC for Payments

NFC Tags: NFC tags can be used in versatile ways like NFC tags to connect to your WiFi router without typing the password, using your phone to unlock your PC (which is connected with NFC tag) every time you place it on your computer table, using it as employee cards to mark attendance, etc. NFC Tags can be programmable and some of them are only programmable once. You can input your desired data in the NFC Tag like a link to a playlist of your songs, a link to MX Player, Jio TV, etc for watching movies or TV. 

NFC Tags

Sharing files between devices: NFC enables file sharing between phones when you bring both of them in contact. It is suitable for sharing documents, images, and low-size files because if you move one of the phones apart the file-sharing will stop (as I mentioned earlier it is short-range technology). You can also share contact info, URL of websites. 

File transfer through NFC

Pairing Bluetooth devices: NFC in your phone can be used to pair with other devices like Bluetooth speakers, headphones, etc.

Pairing with NFC

Also Read: What Is Carrier Aggregation


What does NFC do on my phone?

It allows you to share data with other NFC-enabled devices. You can share files with other NFC-enabled phones, share contact info, scan NFC Tags, etc. The benefits of wireless charging can also be used for NFC-enabled phones.

Is NFC safe on phones for payments?

Yes, it is safer on phones when compared to credit/debit cards as you need to enable NFC, open the payment app and type your pin for payment. On the other hand, credit/debit cards can be easily exploited if someone uses another NFC device to clone your card. 

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Divyang Solanki
Member of Team Technical Jayendra: Curious about the improving technology which makes us dependent on them and will eventually enslave us.

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