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NFC Encoding
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What is NFC - A Beginners Guide

What is NFC and how does it work ?

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless communication technology a bit like WiFi or Bluetooth. It allows the transfer of data between two devices, such as a mobile phone and NFC tag. Typically, NFC is used to pass data from one device to the other. So you might use NFC to pass data from an NFC enabled mobile phone to another NFC enabled mobile phone, from a mobile phone to a payment terminal or from an NFC tag to a mobile phone.

What is NFC used for ?

A very rapidly growing number of things. Current applications include contactless payments, marketing and advertising, security and access control, product identification, location identification, mobile phone task launcher apps, events and many, many more.

And the great part is that all of these applications require just an NFC enabled mobile phone to get started.

NFC is the technology behind using your mobile phone (or contactless credit card) to quickly and easily pay for small items such as your coffee or newspaper.
NFC tags placed behind 'smart posters', integrated into brochures (or beer mats!), pens, window stickers and other items provide simple one-tap access to videos, websites, Facebook pages and more.
NFC tags are now being used provide easy data logging of cleaning routines, medical care and security checks.
NFC tags are being embedded or stuck onto products for one-tap download of user manuals and for product identification to help prevent counterfeits and monitor stock movement.
NFC tags are being embedded into wristbands or cards for access control or 'closed-loop' payments at trade shows, festivals and other events.
Home users are now using NFC tags for one-tap access to today's weather, or to turn on their WiFi, put the phone in silent mode, send a text message and much more.
NFC tags are being placed in tourist signs to provide instant access local information and on bus stops so users can get one-tap real-time waiting time information.

What is the user experience ?

The beauty of NFC is in its simplicity. Once the tag has been encoded with the desired information or action, the tag is ready to use. The user simply touches the back of the phone against the tag. This will launch the URL, application or service encoded. No lining up cameras with barcodes, no downloading apps just to scan, no fuss. Simple.

How near is 'Near Field' ?

NFC technology works only at close distances - typically around a few centimeters. This close range makes NFC perfect for interaction and means that tags can't 'accidently' be read or used for unwanted tracking. The 'tap' action is therefore quite specific and part of the appeal of NFC as opposed to other longer range RFID technologies.

How is NFC used for mobile payments ?

NFC is used as the 'connector' between a mobile phone and a payment terminal device. NFC has a number of significant advantages, not least of which is it's ability to only work in close proximity.

Most analysts project that mobile based payment technology is going to arrive soon in a big way. Using a phone to pay is not only convenient and simple, but allows for two way interaction such as 'virtual' coffee shop loyalty cards and similar ideas.

What phones have NFC built in ?

Almost all new smartphones now have NFC built in. In fact, since the launch of Apple's iPhone 6, all of the top mobile manufacturers have now adopted NFC. See our NFC enabled smartphones list for more information.

What is an NFC Tag ?

Think of an NFC tag as a really small memory device, like a USB stick, but with an antenna attached so it can send it's data wirelessly. It contains no batteries and gets all it's power from just being close to the mobile phone. Commonly, a tag will be a sticker, perhaps the size of a postage stamp. But it can also be embedded into keyfobs, wristbands and lots of other things. NFC Tags explained >

How do I get started ?

Get hold of some stickers or a starter pack and have a go. All RapidNFC products are tried and tested and you can get lots more information on these pages.

If you have a particular application in mind then send us an email or give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7836 8566 and we'll give you straightforward and no-nonsense advice.