Smartphone usage, all over the globe, has skyrocketed to new heights, stemmed by the increased availability of internet and innovations in technology. With Chinese Smartphone Manufacturers introducing budget-friendly smartphones and gadgets with new and unique technologies, people all over the world have access to smartphones at large.
As the world is progressing further, so is technology, and technology is fueling new mechanisms of operations, especially when it comes to payments. With the rise of Fintech Technologies, users are now more accustomed to use of digital payments, as opposed to cash-based payments, giving rise to the concept of ‘Cashless’ or ‘Contactless’ Payments.
Having said that, NFC Payments is an extension of the Cashless or Contactless Payment Methods, in the Digital Payments Ecosystem that allows for seamless payment mechanism, through the technology of Near Field Communication. NFC Enabled Devices act as your Go-to Payment mechanisms, through which you can process your payments, simply by connecting with NFC Tags, which automatically exchanges data, once your smartphone comes into contact with the NFC Tag. This entire mechanism is known as NFC or Near Field Communication Payments.
Introduction to NFC Technology
The NFC Technology is getting mainstream, as more and more smartphones are now supporting NFC technology, allowing for users to abide by NFC Tags, as their main method of making monetary transactions (wherever applicable). The NFC Technology facilitates the transfer of data between nearby gadgets, including Supported Android Smartphones and Apple’s iPhones, Laptops, Tablets, and vice versa.
If we talk about the Technical Element of the NFC Technology, than it is based on part RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and part Bluetooth. You may consider it as a Hybrid of RFID and Bluetooth. However, NFC, as the name suggests, functions and operates in close parameters or proximity, and does not require manual device synchronization or discovery, making it different from both Bluetooth and RFID.
Similarly, NFC Tags that are the main working mechanism for NFC-based Payments, are NFC based chips, present inside the NFC-supporting Gadgets. Popular methods of Contactless Payments like Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay are all powered by NFC-based Technology.
The Onset of NFC Tags
NFC Technology has been in the market longer than you might’ve imagined. The only difference today, is that it has become more mainstream, due to increased smartphone usage and adaptability of technology with supported gadgets.
Nokia was the first mover of launching an NFC-enable phone, back in year 2006. However, as mentioned above, the NFC Technology gained momentum, over the past few years, as the concept of Digital Payments and Contactless Payments has picked up pace, especially post Covid-19. Companies, all over the world, realize the future payments, translated towards a Cashless Payment Ecosystem, in which NFC-based payments will be a dominating force.
As of today, there are 2 Billion+ NFC-enabled gadgets and devices, and over 20% of the world’s population having access to NFC Technology, with the numbers growing at a rapid pace.
As NFC Technology and use of NFC Tags are getting more and more mainstream, many people are still confused, as to the nature and functionality of NFC Tags, for which we will enlighten the mechanism of using NFC Tags today.
Functionality of NFC Tags: How do they work?
As we briefly discussed about how NFC Technology is a Hybrid between Bluetooth and RFID, NFC Tags communicate over near field radio waves transmission. The NFC Tag and NFC User/ Reader exchange the information collected using data interchange mechanism, to transact and verify your payment. An NFC Tag sends radio waves to the receiving NFC device’s Antenna, where the latter verifies the information to secure and conclude information exchange.
Since NFC works in close proximity, the defined are is about 4 inches, working well within short distances. Because of the radio waves transfer technology, NFC Tags don’t require battery to power up, because they are operating through NFC-enabled devices, like an Android or iOS Smartphone.
Additionally, the NFC Tags are not prone to accidental transactions, given that the transaction is made on only one supported device. Due to this, accidental transactions do not occur. Also, the security protocols during NFC data exchange are quite strong, since the technology is based on encrypted chips, embedded inside the NFC-enabled devices. Multiple cards may be stored in the NFC-enabled device, and all it takes is a simple tap of the device with the NFC Tag, and your payment or transaction is immediately processed.
How do you Enable Your Smartphone to Read NFC Tags
One of the biggest question that arises in the mind of new NFC users, is to how should one enable NFC payments through their NFC-enabled devices and smartphones. It is quite simple, and the process takes a few minutes.
For NFC-Enabled Android Smartphones
- First of all, you need to make sure that your NFC-enabled Android Smartphone is updated and equipped with the latest Android Software Version, to ensure seamless NFC Payment
- Secondly, your NFC-enabled Android Smartphone’s NFC Chip and Android Beam is activated prior to conducting an NFC-based transaction
- Toggle to Device Settings and Select More
- Navigate to the NFC option and activate it (this will simultaneously activate your Android Beam as well)
- In case Android Beam is not activated, simply navigate to Android Beam and activate it separately.
Note: For iOS devices, NFC comes enabled and supported on all iOS iPhones from iPhone 7 onwards, which allows for NFC-based payments using NFC Tags.
Additional FAQs on NFC Tags
In order for you to get clear understanding about the usage and functionality of NFC Tags, we have incorporated some common and important FAQs and their respective answers:
- What is the Proximity Range for NFC Tags?
Answer: NFC Technology or NFC Tags works in close distances, working effectively under the Proximity Distance or Radius of 4 inches.
- Why is the 4-inch Proximity Radius Necessary for NFC Tags to work?
Answer: NFC Payments are known for being secure. Due to the defined 4-inch radius, NFC Payments become safer than other contactless payment technologies.
- Is one Able to Increase the NFC Range?
Answer: The purpose of NFC Technology is to cater short distance transactions in a safe digital payment ecosystem. Thus, you are not able to increase the range of NFC. Other technologies like RFID may be used.
- How secure are NFC Payments/ Tags?
Answer: NFC Tags and NFC Payments are quite secure, since they operate through embedded device chips that are encrypted, allowing for greater data protection.
- What are the Benefits of Using NFC Tags?
Answer: The best part about NFC Payments and Tags is that they are almost instantaneous, allowing for transactional agility, when it comes to making digital payments. You simply don’t need to carry your card or wallet to transact. Your NFC-enabled device will exchange information with the NFC Tag and your payment will be processed immediately. Additionally, NFC Tags work with existing infrastructure, and allow for safer transactions, with minimal accidental transactions.