Near Field Communication (NFC) – Future of Mobile Wallet

Posted: May 26, 2011 in Emerging Technology, iOS Development, Tools
Tags: , , , ,

Mobile phones or smart phones are no more commodities people were using just to have mere communication or keep in touch with their contacts. Ever since smart phones have been introduced with advanced computing ability and connectivity users are no more using it as a device just to communicate. They have started using it as a computing device starting from checking email to playing games, from finding driving directions using map and Augmented reality to watching their favorite TV shows. All those features and much more have replaced the PC usage by 30% as per the report on Venture Beats.

NFC also known as Near Field Communication adds a new dimension to the functionalities of mobile phones and primarily being targeted for three main uses “sharing, pairing, and transaction. It is a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a distance of 4 cm or less.

It has two major components an initiator and a target. The initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries.

NFC tags contain simple data or elaborate instructions that enable them to perform such functions as unlocking doors, paying for goods, launching phone calls or exchanging data between users. The majority of tags for consumer applications are read-only. However, NFC tags can also be read and re-writeable.

The tags can securely store personal data such as debit and credit card information, loyalty program data, PINs and networking contacts, among other information.

NFC Multiple Uses

A wide range of applications are possible through NFC, such as:

– Mobile ticketing for public transport including rail, metro, and airline journeys; movies; concerts; and sporting events

– Mobile payment: Users can pay for goods using NFC-enabled devices, either NFC-enabled phones with stored data that act as a debit/ credit payment card or NFC-powered contact less payment cards they touch to readers.

– Smart posters and objects: NFC-enabled phones can be used to read RFID tags on commercial establishments’ signs for information or promotions or scan outdoor billboards.

– Bluetooth pairing: In the future, pairing of Bluetooth 2.1 devices with NFC support will be as easy as bringing them
close together and accepting the pairing.

Emerging applications include:
P2P payment, Identity documents, Mobile commerce, Electronic keys, Health and safety applications, Social networking, Smart mobility, Entertainment etc.

While Android supports NFC that typically acts as an initiator when the screen is on. The NFC enabled application actively looks for NFC tags and start activities to handle them. Android 2.3.3 also has some limited P2P support.

Tags can range in complexity, simple tags just offer read/write semantics, sometimes with one-time-programmable areas to make the card read-only. More complex tags offer math operations, and have cryptographic hardware to authenticate access to a sector. The most sophisticated tags contain operating environments, allowing complex interactions with code executing on the tag.

Here’s an example of Simple Photo Sharing Application on Android using NFC. Youtube Video

Rumors suggested the iPhone 5 would support NFC. We can never know until Apple officially announces it. However, a leaked document shows how apple plans to introduce NFC in Travel industry.

What might be interesting to discover is whether apple releases it as a framework for other developers to play around it or make it
a private API.

  1. Andy says:

    hello there, fantastic article, and a decent understand! 1 for my bookmarks.

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