NFC for Beginners – A short introduction


What is NFC, actually?

NFC stands for Near Field Communication.

It is a Wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 4 centimetre distance.

Translated into consumer technology this means NFC can enable simple and safe two-way interactions between electronic devices,

This means NFC allows consumers to perform contactless transactions, access digital content, and connect electronic devices with a single touch.

NFC is based on RFID technology at 13,56 MHz.

A Short History of NFC

2002: NFC co-invented by Sony and Philips Semiconductor (NXP)

2004: NFC Forum established by Sony, Philips, and Nokia

2006: Initial Specifications for NFC Tags & “SmartPoster” records

2009: Specifications for Peer-to-Peer data transfer

2010: Launch of “N” mark by NFC Forum and first NFC compatible smartphone released

What does the NFC Forum do?nfc_forum

The NFC Forum is dedicated to promoting the security, ease of use, and popularity of Near Field Communication. It aims to educate businesses about the technology and upholds standards that allow NFC to operate between different devices. Those who wish to create NFC compliant devices must meet these standards set forth by the NFC Forum. This ensures that any user with any NFC device can use it with any other NFC device or NFC tag.

The Future of NFC

The Vision for NFC technology is to create the convergence of services in your daily life with NFC. It means that the access of any service would be literally at your fingertips, all in one device: your smartphone. No more wallets overflowing with coupons, loyalty cards and payment cards, no risk of loosing paper tickets or not having enough coins for parking.


How does it work? – The technical stuff

Devices using NFC may be active or passive. A passive device, such as an NFC tag, contains information that other devices can read but does not read any information itself. Think of a passive device as a sign on a wall. Others can read the information, but the sign itself does nothing except transmit the info to authorized devices.

Active devices can read information and send it. An active NFC device, like a smartphone, would not only be able to collect information from NFC tags, but it would also be able to exchange information with other compatible phones or devices and could even alter the information on the NFC tag if authorized to make such changes.


NFC devices are unique in that they can change their mode of operation to be in read/write mode, peer-to-peer mode or card emulation mode. The different operating modes are based on the ISO/IEC 18092 NFC IP-1 and ISO/IEC 14443 contactless smartcard standards. In order to obtain a NFC certification, devices must support at least two of the three modes.

And what about security?

To ensure security, NFC often establishes a secure channel and uses encryption when sending sensitive information such as credit card numbers. Users can further protect their private data by keeping anti-virus software on their smartphones and adding a password to the phone so a thief cannot use it in the event that the smartphone is lost or stolen.

More technical stuff: So, what exactly is an NFC Tag?

An NFC Tag is a (passive) HF contactless tag capable of storing NDEF formatted data, which operates with ISO 14443, ISO 15693 or Felica infrastructure and NFC devices as defined by the NFC forum.

An NFC Forum Tag is compatible to one of five NFC forum Tag platforms capable of storing NDEF formated data.

Every NFC Forum tag is also an NFC tag. Every NFC tag is also an HF RFID tag – but not vice versa!



And how does RFIP Ltd fit into this?

hid_logoAll our HID products on the RFID Shop that hold a Mifare DESFire or UL chip can be used as NFC Forum tags today and become NFC tags as soon as a NDEF data structure is written to them. Essentially, the entire HF tag portfolio of HID Global can be used as NFC tags.

RFIP Ltd consultancy services can also help with the design and implementation of NFC technology.

Interested? Contact us: email: phone: 01865 339 600



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s