Jenny Stanley
Jenny Stanley 9 August 2023

What is NFC and What is it Used For?

Near-field Communication, or NFC, is a kind of technology that allows two devices to talk to each other without wires, as long as they're super close together. This requirement for proximity makes the transmission of data highly localised and secureNFC is becoming more common because of our smartphones and faster networks.

How Does NFC Work?

Using NFC is as simple as flicking a switch on your device. When you turn it on, your device can start chatting with other devices that have NFC switched on.

Just like when you talk louder to be heard across a room, NFC needs more power to send data. However, the data can be sent super quickly. The only drawback? The devices need to be within about 10 centimetres of each other.

A Journey Through Time

NFC has been around since 2003, when it got a kind of seal of approval from important organisations around the world.

This meant people started to think of ways to use this new technology.

NFC in the Real World

You may not realise it, but you've probably used NFC already. If you've ever waved your phone over a payment machine at a store, using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or similar, that's NFC in action.

Let's go through a few other examples:

  • Sharing is Caring: Ever bumped phones with a friend to send them a photo? That's NFC making the magic happen.
  • NFC Tags: Some places use NFC tags to give you more information. Like when you visit a museum, you could hold your phone near a painting to learn more about it.
  • Access Granted: Many offices and schools use NFC cards or badges to let people in. When you tap your card on the reader, it checks if you're allowed in.
  • Handy Automations: You could use NFC to turn on your Wi-Fi when you get home. Or maybe to start your coffee maker from your bed. The possibilities are endless!
  • Getting in Sync: NFC makes it easy to connect your wireless headphones or speakers to your phone. Just bring them close, and they're paired.
  • Fashion Forward: NFC is making its way into the world of fashion. Some fitness trackers use it to record your workout data. There are even clothes being made that can monitor body temperature, all thanks to NFC.


In the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, NFC is transforming how we shop.

Here's how:

  • Smart Shopping: When you're at the store, you could hold your phone near a product's tag to get more details about it, like nutritional info or even cooking instructions. That's NFC at work.
  • Easy Checkout: NFC helps you check out faster. Instead of waiting in line, you just tap your phone or card on a payment reader and voila, you're done.
  • Digital Coupons: Instead of clipping coupons from newspapers, you can simply tap your phone on an NFC tag in a store to get digital coupons.

Looking Ahead

NFC seems to be sticking around. It's being used more and more, especially for contactless payments.

With the recent health concerns around touching things in public places, people prefer to pay with their phones or cards without touching anything. We also love our smartwatches and fitness trackers, which use NFC a lot. So, it looks like NFC is here to stay!

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