Near field communication (NFC) is coming to your phone. How do we know? Because Google, Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and you-name-it say so. When the technology will actually be widely deployed is not entirely certain, but strong signals point to this happening within the next two years. The move will open the doors to a slew of interesting applications and could transform the way we pay for merchandise at the point of sale. Incorporating NFC into smartphones – especially in the way many companies envision it – will also have distinct implications for consumer privacy and data security that may not be covered by current regulations.
What is NFC?
NFC is a form of short-range communication that wirelessly exchanges data between a reader (such as a phone or sensor) and a target (such as another reader or a microchip embedded in an object). Targets need not have a power source for readers to scan them. NFC is essentially a subset of radio frequency identification (RFID) but, as the name implies, near field communication has a shorter read range – a maximum of about 20 centimeters, although it is possible to amplify this. The most common application for NFC today is to enable contactless payment with mobile phones.
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