Contactless payments are now the norm for most consumers. In 2021, four out of 10 Americans with smartphones used contactless payment at least once. NFC is among these contactless payment methods, and the US has seen more significant NFC penetration than other countries in the same year.
If you’ve made payment transactions on Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay, you’re probably familiar with NFC. However, you could still be unfamiliar and want to understand how this technology works for future purposes.
Understanding NFC can help you adapt to contactless payments more quickly. It can also provide convenient transactions to ease some of your daily purchases and monthly bill payments. What exactly is NFC, and how can you activate and use it?
Understanding Near Field Communication (NFC)
NFC refers to near-field communication. It is a system developed from radio frequency identification (RFID), which doesn’t require an internal operating source. This technology wirelessly transfers information within short-range distances. It also allows you to transmit small amounts of data through NFC tags.
NFC tags are small, intelligent chips that acquire digital signals from your smartphone. Using radio waves, they activate the receiving device’s signals and verify information upon data transmission. NFC developers embed these tags on laptops, smartphones, printers, tablets, and other electronics.
NFC technology has three application modes: reader/writer, peer-to-peer, and card emulation.
- Reader/Writer: Reads and writes data, obtains information, or initiates actions. It can connect with NFC-enabled devices, such as tags, contactless cards, and NFC-enabled smartphones
- Peer-to-Peer: NFC devices are endpoints, allowing two NFC-enabled systems to connect as peers. It may use active or passive communication. Active NFC stores and sends data, while passive NFC can only transfer information
- Card Emulation: Compliant with the ISO/IEC 14443 guidelines, this mode is primarily used in different contactless card infrastructures, including tollgates, ticketing, access control, transit fees, and store payments
Steps for Activating Your NFC
Activating your NFC doesn’t require technical skills and advanced knowledge.
Activating NFC for Android Devices
- Check if your device is NFC-enabled by going to Settings.
- Tap Connected Devices, then choose Connection Preferences.
- After clicking Connection Preferences, you should see an NFC option.
- Select the NFC option and enable the NFC toggle.
- You’re done! Alternatively, you can type NFC on the Settings search bar to reduce the time spent navigating and scrolling.
Activating NFC for iOS Phones
- Most of the latest iPhones support automatic NFC. However, for older models (iPhone 8 and 7), you must first check by swiping from your phone’s bottom to open Control Center.
- Look for the NFC Tag reader and turn it on.
- If the NFC feature is unavailable, add it via Settings.
- Open Settings and press Control Center.
- Scroll down and tap More Controls.
- Click the plus (+) sign beside the NFC Tag Reader.
- Repeat steps one and two, and you’re done.
NFCs are automatic for iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, SE 2nd and 3rd Gen, and 11 to 14, including Pro, Pro Max, Plus, and Mini. If your iPhone is 7, 8, or X, you must manually activate its NFC.
Why Should You Use NFC technology?
NFC aims to ease the financial aspects of your daily life. But it can be convenient beyond contactless payments.
Let’s examine how it can streamline your payments and the other reasons to incorporate it into your lifestyle.
Easier and Straightforward Payments
NFC powers most modern payment solutions like Apple Pay and Google Pay. This integration can let you make simple and quick transactions.
Rather than using a single credit card for every payment, NFC’s card emulation mode generates single-use transaction keys. After using these keys, they will expire within seconds. Consequently, it can prevent unauthorized access and transactions to your account.
Since many physical products are embedded with NFC chips, they can be a payment solution. With this, you can streamline your payments to enhance your shopping experience and reduce time spent standing in long lines.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi pairings can be time-consuming, particularly when passwords and other steps are required. NFC can ease these processes with its convenient tap-to-pair feature.
Tap-to-pair can reduce the need to scroll through device menus and manually enter passwords. This integration can also save and transmit your passwords to receiving devices without typing them down.
Another advantage of NFC is that it isn’t just limited to payments. Some people are unaware they can also use NFC’s tap-to-pair integrations to print pictures from phone in NFC-enabled printers. It can make your printing process more convenient, particularly when rushing to finish a deadline.
Since NFC chips are small and lightweight, any physical product can transmit online content. It can provide value-added connections by bridging the gap between physical and digital realms. Consequently, face-to-face events can incorporate online experiences, fostering more interactions beyond in-person networks.
NFC still isn’t immune to cyber threats due to its wireless feature, but these attacks are often too challenging to execute.
NFC-enabled cards have encryption and tokenization systems that can provide more security than traditional swiping.
Encryption alters ordinary information or confidential data into ciphertext. The ciphertext is unreadable encrypted data generated with an encryption key. Making the text readable again requires decryption.
Inversely, tokenization involves transforming data into random characters called “tokens,” which don’t have any meaning. Since it’s not cryptographic, hackers won’t often guess the original data from the tokens.
Protecting your NFC data also involves practicing online safety habits. Create strong passwords, patterns, and PIN codes to make your smartphone and digital wallets more secure. You can also enable biometric authentication if it’s available.
Verifies Products and Services
NFC-enabled products and services have unique online identities that users and businesses can verify before posting and buying. This verification feature can help brands and retailers determine fake listings before you see them. This way, your purchases and transactions won’t compromise your data and money.
Skip the Lines With NFC Technology
NFC is an innovation that has been around for years. The more people recognize its purpose in simplifying payment transactions, the more it can transform daily routines. You won’t have to worry about standing in long lines, bringing out cash, or malfunctioning cards when making payments. Still, keeping your phone secure is essential to maximize your NFC data protection.