What is NFC?

What is NFC?

Paperless technology is where it’s at right now, but is it really true that a train ticket, a credit card, and even your purse or wallet will be a thing of the past? Quite possibly. All you need is your smartphone or tablet and you’re good to go.


It’s all thanks to Near Field Communications, or NFC. This form of wireless communication enables the flow of information between two devices. It allows you to wirelessly pay for items and link with other devices, among other things.


NFC is already available on many Android and Windows phones and could soon be a regular feature in your day-to-day life.


So how does NFC work?


NFC comes in three main formats: tag reader and writer, device-to-device, and card emulation:


  • Tag reading. This allows companies to place small NFC-enabled tags on things like film posters. So you can scan it with your smartphone for more info or to watch trailers. You could also, for example, tap your phone on an NFC-enabled coupon tag in a store to get special offers.


  • Device-to-device. This communication means your phone can talk to another person’s phone, so you can share photos or videos without using the internet or having network connectivity. You can also pair your phone with a wireless speaker or printer. And because NFC and Bluetooth work together, you can use NFC to quickly connect your phone to a compatible Bluetooth device.


  • Card emulation. The most exciting part of NFC is arguably card emulation, where you can securely use your NFC-equipped phone to pay for things by tapping the handset on a special pad at the till. Hassle-free, wallet-free shopping… what more could you want?


What’s the difference between NFC and Bluetooth?


Bluetooth and NFC are both forms of wireless communication that connect phones over short distances, without using the internet.


But while NFC is limited to a distance of approximately 4cm, Bluetooth can reach over 30ft. NFC technology has the best of both worlds however, because it can connect two devices quickly, then turn the signal over to Bluetooth so you can move further away without losing connection.


NFC technology uses less battery power compared to standard Bluetooth technology - although it may use a bit more when it’s working on an unpowered source like an NFC tag. But the latest development in Bluetooth technology (“Bluetooth low energy” or BLE) is targeted at low power consumption and uses even less power than NFC.


Another benefit of NFC technology is that it’s faster and easier to set up. Bluetooth requires users to manually set up connections between smartphones and takes several seconds. NFC connects automatically, in an instant.


To summarise, paperless technology could save you lots of time on effort, and potentially transform your daily payments into a pretty hassle-free process. With a range of phones boasting NFC available on our monthly payment plans, what are you waiting for? Just remember to make sure you keep all of your private information safe to ensure that the process remains secure. Why not check out our handy tips on choosing a killer password?