NFC Technology in Smartphones: Transforming Devices into Digital Wallets


NFC technology is a prime example of how modern ideas can make everyday life easier. And by setting the necessary commands, with the help of NFC technology, you can automate household and work processes. 

Just a couple of years ago, this technology was used only in flagship smartphones. But the number of NFC-enabled devices is steadily growing, and the time is not far off when there will be no devices on the market without this technology, and we will no longer be able to imagine life without NFC technology.

The NFC technology – what it is, how to enable it on a smartphone and use it safely? Let’s learn everything about NFC technology in smartphones.

What is NFC Technology In A Smartphone? 

NFC (Near Field Communication) technologies have been around for more than a decade. Back in 2004, Nokia, Sony, and NXP Semiconductor determined to design an interface that would let devices interact with each other with just a simple touch.

The interface had to be energy efficient and the connection time short. Google’s joining the team in 2011 was decisive – just a couple of months later, an application was announced that lets you link a bank card to a contactless chip.

Today we have contactless bank cards, electronic keys, and many other things that work on the principle of touch. All the magic of touch happens thanks to the NFC module, a special chip located at the back of the smartphone.

Nearby devices do not use Bluetooth or the Internet to transfer data. If you remember such a technology as infrared, then the logic of NFC technology is about the same: the exchange of small files takes place almost instantly, but audio or video – within a few minutes.

The main difference between NFC technology and Bluetooth is that the technology does not require manual pairing and searching for the necessary device for data exchange. And it does not need internet connectivity to work.

Two devices are automatically paired when one comes within range of the other – in other words, just touch one device to the other, and – there is a contact!

How Does NFC Technology Work?

Here is how NFC technology works:

Use for Personal Identification

Along with a bank card, NFC technology can be used as a means of identity verification. So, a smartphone can display the data of an electronic passport, work pass or student ID card, and driver’s license. This is convenient, since the smartphone is always at hand, and the document can be left at home. 

The phone will display not only the document number, but also the photo of the owner or his/her signature. 

In the future, it is planned to develop this direction in the field of hotel and tourism business. With the help of NFC, you can open the door of your hotel room, get a boarding pass, and check in luggage at the airport. 

You Can Make Contactless Payments

NFC allows you to use modern smartphones and smart watches instead of bank cards and loyalty cards. You just need to download the appropriate application and link the card to the service. 

To pay, you need to bring the smartphone with the back panel to the terminal, wait a few seconds and, the operation is completed. No plastic cards or paper money is needed for this. Cafes, supermarkets, restaurants, and many stores – the list goes on. Shopping takes less time and becomes much more convenient. 

Smartphones with NFC can be used instead of cards at ATMs, even if the card itself is left at home. If you do not use gadgets, it is also more convenient not to insert bank cards, but to attach them to a special NFC nodule. 

The authorization method does not affect further work with the ATM. After you have attached a card or gadget, a standard menu will open, which you can work with in the usual way. The downside is that not all ATMs come with support for NFC technology.

Digital Key To Open Locks

This point is closely related to the personal identification. NFC can open door locks and many other devices by verifying the identity of the owner of the device. So, a smartphone can act as a digital key for a car. Considering that NFC works at a distance of no more than 10 cm, its reliability when transmitting encrypted data required for access is quite high. 

At the very least, intercepting an NFC signal will be more difficult than getting data from a car alarm key fob. You can use your smartphone instead of a pass to the office. So, by attaching the device, it will be possible to enter work without a special card, the data of which will be saved by the application. 

Receiving And transmitting Information

The next obvious use case for NFC technology is data transfer. Naturally, not large files, but, for example, links to web pages, contacts and links to applications, coordinates and routes on the map, and so many more. However, the transfer of videos or photos is not restricted, it just takes a lotof time which is quite tiring.

You may see the NFC logo on some advertising posters or shop windows. If you bring a smartphone to them, links to the site with product descriptions, discount coupons, promotional offers and other information will be transferred to it. 

As a rule, the NFC module is located at the back of the devices and it is enough to lean the smartphones against each other or against the NFC tag, after which data exchange starts in active mode. Moreover, the high speed of connection of two devices, however, the data transfer rate is low, so NFC is not widely used in this role. 

Why Is NFC Technology Needed?

NFC began to appear in smartphones in 2010-2011, but at that time it was still not entirely clear what to do with it because there was a faster and more familiar Bluetooth to transfer content from device to device.

A few years later, NFC has become more or less familiar, and today the technology has many applications.

NFC technology uses 3 modes of operation.

  1. Multiple devices connect, allowing you to share photos, videos, Wi-Fi passwords, or even other settings.
  2. Smartphone work like smart cards – this NFC mode allows you to quickly and contactless pay for purchases using your smartphone.
  3. Smartphones with NFC technology are used to read information from special tags or labels – using this function, you can easily get acquainted with the traffic schedule, tourist map, or route.


NFC signals are encrypted using special algorithms, and in banking applications, you must additionally confirm the action using a pin code, fingerprint, or iris scan.

However, do not forget that you should not make contactless payments in unverified places or suspicious stores. Do not bring the phone near “unknown” tags pasted in public places (including advertisements).

If possible, try to turn off the NFC function when it is not needed. At self-service terminals, check if a third-party label is attached.

Do not bring your smartphone to the devices of strangers who ask you to visually demonstrate and explain what the NFC module is on an Android or iPhone. This may be a common scam.


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