How Does Near Field Communication Work? Exploring NFC

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The way we transfer data from one device to another has shifted from one year to another. This is because many technologies emerged as solutions to this situation, such as Bluetooth. Bluetooth is considered to be the first way of data transfer between devices and is still used to this day. With each year, the methods became better and more advanced in terms of speed, security, and many other factors. Recently, data transfer technology had more roles and applications that go beyond just transferring data. One of the technologies that shined with many applications and capabilities is NFC. The name might sound familiar. It is true, it is familiar, and you probably will find it on your phone, no matter the model or type. And if this name doesn’t sound familiar, have no worries, cause this article has got you covered. In this article, we will explore the great technology and learn how does near field communication work. We will demonstrate its applications, importance, and the role of mobile applications in enhancing such a technology.

The Origins of Near Field Communication: What Is It?

NFC, or near-field communication, may sound like a new or emerging technology. However, it has been here for a very long time. NFC is the new and advanced version of an already established technology called radio frequency identification (RFID) that dates way back to 1983. If you don’t know what this is, you probably do, because you encounter RFID everywhere by using hotel keycards, wireless card payments, and so on. Following the success of radio frequency identification and its widespread use, experts thought about making some alterations and shifts here and there to the technology. Their main aim was to adopt the dynamic tech landscape. That is why, sometime after the development of radio frequency identification, NFC emerged and started to be included in many smartphones like those from Apple and Samsung. NFC is a technology based on wireless communication between devices. It allows devices to act as data transmitters and wirelessly exchange digital data. For instance, NFC can turn your smartphone into a light switch, so you can control all the lights around your house.

What makes NFC special is that it is not limited to having Bluetooth or stable Wi-Fi. All you have to do is be present at a near distance with the other device that you need to use.

How Does Near Field Communication Work? The Mechanism Behind NFC Technology

The mechanism behind NFC is pretty simple and straightforward. The process depends on the presence of an NFC chip or tag, either included in a smartphone or on its own. This tag or chip will act as a receipt. Additionally, it would also need an NFC reader that would allow the smartphone to access and transmit data. NFC can also work between two devices without needing an NFC reader through peer-to-peer communication, where one will act as the receiver and the other will be the sender. This case is known as active NFC as it occurs between two active devices. In any of the two cases, the reader device will emit a magnetic field that the other device will automatically respond to if it is in the same or a nearby area.

The Advantages of Using NFC Technology

Ease of Use

NFC’s ease of use is unparalleled. There is no complicated pairing procedure or other requirements. To make a connection or begin a transaction, users need only tap their NFC-enabled device or card.


Using NFC, financial transactions are quick and easy. The instantaneous nature of the data transfer and communication makes them ideal for use in fast transactions like contactless payments.


Security (7)  

Compared to other forms of wireless communication, NFC provides a more secure method of exchanging information. It employs close-range communication, typically within a few centimeters, to lessen the chances of data interference. In addition, encryption and authentication protocols are commonly used in NFC transactions.


Smartphones, tablets, and even some laptops now feature NFC support, expanding the range of devices and operating systems that can take advantage of this technology. This ensures that NFC can be seamlessly integrated into preexisting infrastructures and software.


There is a wide variety of uses for near-field communication and how they work. Common applications include contactless payments like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, and access control like hotel key cards. In addition, they can be used in public transportation tickets like contactless transit cards, and data exchange.

Energy Efficiency

Due to the fact that NFC technology only activates once two devices are brought into direct range, it conserves energy. This saves energy compared to other wireless technologies that must constantly scan the area for nearby devices in order to establish a connection.



Businesses may save money by adopting NFC technology. Producing NFC tags and cards is cheap, and there isn’t much in the way of the backing infrastructure needed for NFC-based systems.

Contactless Payments

For both businesses and customers, NFC’s speed and ease of use make it a crucial component of the contactless payment system. It makes the process of making payments easier by reducing the need for physical cash and cards.

Challenges and Limitations of NFC

Limited Range

To be most useful, NFC can’t be used more than a few centimeters away. This limited range was designed that way on purpose to boost security; however, it causes issues in situations where relatively long-distance communication is necessary.


Despite the widespread implementation of near-field communication in today’s smartphones and other devices, not all electronics are compatible with one another in this way. This incompatibility may limit the scope of application and compatibility for NFC technologies.

NFC Privacy Concerns

Credit card and passport numbers, among other forms of personally identifiable information, are frequently exchanged during NFC transactions. It’s challenging to protect users’ privacy and security, and any errors could lead to the loss of private information or financial losses.

Competition from Alternative Technologies

NFC faces competition from other contactless technologies, such as Bluetooth Low Energy and QR codes. These alternatives pose a significant threat to NFC because their benefits in terms of range, stability, and cost of installation will vary widely depending on the application.

Limited Data Transfer Speed

The speed at which NFC can transfer data is much slower than that of rival wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. For uses that require frequent data transfers, this limitation can be problematic.

Physical Contact Requirement

Near-field communication requires physical contact or close proximity between two devices or tags. The need for close proximity and contact can be a burden or even impossible under certain conditions.

Applications of NFC in Different Industries


The first and most popular application of NFC is in the retail industry. NFC has proven its significance and great potential through being embedded in retail. They are used as a new and advanced payment method. They allow customers to pay easily and swiftly. Additionally, as we mentioned before, NFCs are known for being secure, so they give customers peace of mind when making any transaction as they usually have security measures applied, like biometric authentication. In addition, NFCs are a great way to push in-store promotions and campaigns.


As the whole world is now going digital, transportation is a main part of this wave. Many means of transportation now rely significantly on NFC. NFCs allow commuters to board any means of transportation without needing to stumble upon the stirring process of purchasing tickets. Or running into situations like forgetting your bus or train card, which can be very frustrating. Through the NFC tags found in most smartphones, the commuter will pay for his transportation easily and in the blink of an eye, which is ideal, especially for tourists.



Now, as we established the idea that NFC chips are a part of mainly all smartphones, this was a major opportunity for healthcare. In addition to the many technologies invading and transforming healthcare. NFC is now a part of the club. So, how do near field communication and healthcare work together? The majority of smartphones have SOS services powered by NFC, which can greatly help in the event of an accident or emergency to raise an SOS alarm for anyone. Additionally, caregivers can access any patient’s medical history using NFC chips and stages, which enables them to provide accurate medical assistance.

Events Management

Lastly, we can consider NFC and events management to be a great duo. NFC made the process of ticketing, redemption, and setting as easy as pie for event organizers. That is because they can pay for tickets and redeem them on the go using the contactless payment capabilities of NFC. Additionally, it helps organizers check the feedback and follow up with all the attendees by sending out surveys and polls.

The Future of NFC and NFC Applications

NFC and applications are companions—two matched puzzles where one can’t work without the other. Applications highlighted the function and capabilities of NFC, which really helped this technology stand out and gain millions of users. Although NFC is a simple idea of seeing and receiving data, applications have made it possible to expand and progress the idea to be incorporated in many fields, such as events and e-commerce. The future of NFC and applications is promising and will witness much progress. So, how does near field communication work with Apps? For example, the rise of IoT applications depends greatly on NFC as a fundamental component and technology. The technology helps in enhancing device pairing and communication. Additionally, we can’t forget the role of NFC in healthcare. Other than what we have mentioned previously, wearables are making a great appearance in the healthcare sector. And apparently, NFC is also a part of the new wearable technology and applications. Wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness bands can benefit from near-field communication integration for use in a variety of scenarios, such as access control and remote monitoring.