You are on page 1of 7

Near Field Communications (NFC

MIS News Item Article and Summary


typically between 4 and 10 centimeters. But beyond payments. cards and any extra weight in your pockets. Of course. In this piece we are going to tell you the things that you should know about Near Field Communication and how it could make your life easier in the future. But NFC has its unique set of characteristics that will determine how it's used in real-world practical applications. compared to Bluetooth's 10-meter range. and Europe. NFC has the potential to reach many other industries. for example. as well as act as our personal ID or a virtual ticket for transport and attractions. This by-design limitation reduces the likelihood of unwanted interception and makes NFC particularly suitable for crowded areas where correlating a signal with its transmitting physical device becomes difficult. is shaping up to be one of the hottest tech trends of the next few years. or simply NFC. or in the case of some RFID implementations even kilometers. . and is considered a subset of existing RFID (Radio Frequency ID) standards given that is uses radio waves for identification purposes. there are loose ends that will need to be worked out before the technology actually catches on.Everything You Need to Know About NFC By Jose Vilches on April 22. Mobile payment systems backed by major financial institutions are either already being tested or in plans to start tests. NFC could allow our smartphone to pay for products. open doors. like ensuring the proper infrastructure is there and addressing any security concerns. It's similar to Bluetooth in the sense that both are short-range communication technologies. It¶s not too far-fetched to imagine a world where all we need to carry around with us is a single do-it-all device. Say goodbye to your keys.S. while smartphones with built-in NFC chips are making their way into the U. 2011 Read user comments (27) Find smartphone prices Bookmark | Share this Near Field Communication. wallet. from location-based services to ticketing and public transportation. What Is Near Field Co mmunication? Let's start with a basic definition: NFC is a wireless technology that makes use of interacting electromagnetic radio fields to transmit small bits of information between an "initiator" and a "target" -a key card and your hotel room door. For one thing NFC transmits data across much smaller distances.

reviews. You can buy a movie ticket online and get confirmation with a QR code attached by email.1Mb/s. which acts as the target.Its short-range nature may significantly reduce the risk of eavesdropping but that alone does not guarantee secure communications. NFC involves an initiator and a target.0. NFC operates within the globally available and unlicensed radio frequency ISM band of 13. I'll discuss other possible uses next but at this point I want to note that some of this is already possible with current technologies like QR codes. A simple example would be holding a NFC-equipped smartphone near a tagged movie poster and getting all relevant information in seconds -. where the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target without an electricity source. Elaborating on the same example. In fact. Lastly. Instead of performing manual configurations to identify devices. The smartphone would be the initiator and the tagged poster would be the passive target. but the gist of it is that only one of the devices 'needs' to be powered. targets. acting as an initiator by simply bringing them close to each other. say you purchased a ticket to that movie from the poster. or cards that do not require batteries. or both combined in an active peer-to-peer mode. which you can print or simply flash from your smartphone screen to be . now you can bypass the line at the box office and redeem the ticket on your handset. While the poster can only be a passive target.4GHz frequency and can reach maximum data rate of 2. applications have to use higher -layer cryptographic protocols like SSL to establish a secure channel. Another differentiating factor is that NFC sets up connections faster than standard Bluetooth and its low-power variant. I'll leave the electromagnetism explanations to Wikipedia or your favorite source of nerd facts. schedules at the nearest theater and the option to buy tickets online. whereas Bluetooth operates in the 2. Bluetooth 3. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags.trailer. How Does It Work? As mentioned before. key fobs. their data throughput capacity makes them fit for different applications. The NFC reader at the movies is the initiator and reads the information from your phone. stickers. the connection between two NFC devices is automatically established quickly in less than a tenth of a second. NFC could even be used to speed up the process of pairing two Bluetooth devices. NFC-equipped devices like smartphones can act as initiators.56 MHz and can go up to a maximum data rate of 424Kb/s.

including my current city Nice. conferences. Take the movie theater example in the previous section and apply it to any kind of ticket: concerts or live shows. France -. Imagine getting rid of that extra weight in your pocket by replacing your entire keychain with your mobile phone. theme parks. . y Ticketing. NFC is more about increasing convenience than enabling something completely new. Pilot and commercial programs have already been deployed in many cities of the world -. Instead of swiping a credit card or scanning a barcode just tap the NFC reader with your phone and off you go. y Keys. checking into a flight and boarding. checkbooks and other clumsy payment methods for a single device that you already carry everywhere. in urban areas with high population density and good public transportation this can be a major driver of NFC adoption.where you can pay the bus. What Will We Use It For? Much noise has been focused on NFC's ability to power mobile payments and that's perhaps because the promise is enticing: It will turn your mobile phone into a wallet. NFC has the potential to replace your credit cards. So what are other possible uses? y Public transportation. In fact. sporting events.scanned at the theater. and access anything else that requires a key with one single device. That sounds great if you ask me. start your car's engine. So. metro or tram with a tap of your phone. Wave your NFC-equipped phone at a store reader and be on your way. office or hotel room. despite all the hype about disruption. With a NFC-enabled phone you could potentially tap your way into your apartment. This could arguably be a subset of mobile payments but it's worth mentioning on its own.

additional product information. Touch and Confirm. Big and small players are looking to make money through mobile payments and businesses are starting to take an interest in NFC as a way to improve engagement with customers at points of sale. These are just some of the practical applications of the technology. and until you have a significant installed user base of consumer NFC devices. With your NFC-equipped phone you can easily rate places or read reviews so you have an idea if the food or service is any good before going in. I think there's a big chance NFC takes off in the next couple of years and we're getting front row seats to see who can make their solutions stick. In the case of mobile payments specifically there is bound to be some resistance over security concerns and its up to payment processors to offer the appropriate safeguards. most systems are still in trial. but looking at current implementations like MasterCard's PayPass you can get an idea of where things are going: zero liability protection programs. merchants won't be willing to invest in the payment-processing devices. with a wave of your phone you could have access to reviews. but it's only been during the past few months that there's been a rush of activity signaling that the technology might finally take off. or prices from other stores. It's also useful for getting 'point of interest' information in cities or location-based social networks like Foursquare. With a few exceptions around the world. . buying clothes or getting something from the local electronics store. From what I can tell these interactions can be essentially split into three categories: Touch and Go. One issue is consumer behavior but in many cases that can be fairly easy to overcome. The bigger issue is that NFC is not on the majority of phones and NFC readers are not widely available at merchants. and with smartphone makers starting to include NFC chips in their products we'll probably see numerous other examples of how we can make our daily interactions quick. use of encryption technologies and requiring PIN codes for transactions over a certain amount.y Comparison-shopping. Google implementing NFC support natively within Android is a great boost for developers who want to create applications that rely on exchanging information based on proximity. adding an extra layer of security for things like mobile payments by requiring a PIN code or just accepting the transaction. Whether you are doing groceries. The Road to Mass Adoption Will It Catch On? We've been hearing about NFC and contact-less mobile payments in the U. and Touch and Connect.S. Google recently began pushing this by putting NFCenabled Places stickers just outside some restaurants and businesses in the Portland. OR area. This is slowly starting to change but it's not something that will happen overnight. where a simple tap gives you access to something like tickets for a movie. y "Check-ins" and venue reviews. effortless and more engaging. and of course there comes the chicken-and-egg paradox: until more merchants accept contact-less payments there will be limited interest from customers in getting NFC-equipped phones or from manufacturers in selling them. when there is an active exchange of data such as sharing contact information with another person. Much like you can do today with barcode scanning but faster. for years.

Here are a few highlights from our recent coverage and stuff that has been covered elsewhere: .S. has been successful enough that is expanding to 9 more French cities and will be made available in a range of last generation handsets from key providers this year.. this pilot program that's been in effect since mid-2010. Today. companies like Google and PayPal. though some estimates put regular use at just 10%. banks.Japan's ANA passengers can check in and board local flights by waving a mobile phone to a machine It's important to note that NFC or NFC-like systems are already widely used in some Asian countries. but unfortunately several days after activating the service and despite many calls to get it sorted out.. Who Is Backing It? Mobile phone carriers. it is still not working. developed by Sony. device manufacturers. but eventually plans to move to the standardized NFC to avoid the higher licensing fees and increased cost of phones and readers. while phone makers and point-of-sale terminal vendors are including support for the technology in their latest devices. Europe and several countries throughout the world there are numerous tests and pilot programs being conducted.S. which is why implementation and execution is so important for adoption. Google Checkout and Amazon Payments are also said to be working on NFC solutions. In the U. which rolled out the first phones with built-in mobile payment chips as far back as July 2004. most notably Japan. dubbed Cityzi. credit card companies. The country uses a proprietary technology called FeliCa. In the last few months almost every major mobile carrier in the U. PayPal. It's not clear to me if this is an isolated event but I'm sure many would turn away from the technology if this was their first impression. there are financial gains in store for players across the field and with the hype surrounding NFC growing nobody wants to be left out. about half of the country's more than 100 million subscribers have this capability. While conducting research for this article I was hoping to play around with France's NFC implementation in Nice.. banks and credit card companies have either announced plans or have started trialing NFC based payment systems.. Nevertheless. in PayPal. or almost 300 million NFC-enabled smartphones in three year's time. and so on -but may be hesitant to make any big investments until they know what platform their customers are likely to use. It will be a while longer until we're able to ditch our keys. though.Some Final Thoughts Near Field Communication is all about making our daily interactions easier ± easier to pay for goods and services. key fobs. Since NFC is based on open standards. easier to share data between devices. And if it ever comes to that point. it remains to be seen if smartphones are the ideal vehicle to accomplish this. but beyond security concerns I wonder if I'll have to sleep on the porch in the event that my battery dies before coming home. or smartphones regardless of vendor. MasterCard. increasing convenience rather than enabling something new. easier to interact with businesses. And the fight for dominion over mobile payments is just about to begin. Google Checkout. For mobile payments things might be a little more complicated. It may seem that way today due to their ubiquity. It is estimated that one in five smartphones will feature NFC technology by 2014. cards and more in favor of a single device to rule it all. different readers will be compatible with various types of NFC-enabled devices like cards. Are you looking forward to it? . while point-of-sale terminal vendors on the other hand are in for some big sales if contactless payments catch on. Jokes aside. Many companies believe they can boost their average sale amounts by making payments easier and process customer transactions faster. Most of the talk is focused on mobile payments and that has the potential to be a major driver of adoption. Visa. easier ticketing for events. NFC is certainly a technology to keep our eyes on as it has the potential to bring a new level of convenience to many aspects of a typical person's daily life. But as discussed above there are many other reasons for us users to want NFC too. At the heart of the technology is its ease of use. easier to use public transport. Businesses will have to choose which processing infrastructure to support -.