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What is NFC?: The Everyday Technology You’re Likely Using

Consider a scenario where you’re about to make a payment at your local coffee stand or favorite snack store, only to realize your wallet is missing. Instead of a moment of embarrassment, what do people typically do?

Well, unless you have a nice friend or family member to spot you, most people use their smartphone to complete the transaction. This routine convenience is powered by a sophisticated yet unobtrusive technology known as Near Field Communication, or NFC.

Despite its ubiquity in our daily life, we often don’t pause to understand its workings or recognize its significance.

So, what is NFC? In this article, we will dig into the mechanics of Near Field Communication, its broad array of applications, and its integral role in shaping our contemporary digital landscape.

What is NFC and How Does it Work?

Without getting too deep in the weeds of technical jargon, Near Field Communication, often abbreviated as NFC, is a form of contactless communication technology that enables and facilitates the transfer of data between two devices that are physically close, most of the time within a few centimeters.

It’s similar to a simplified version of radio-frequency identification (RFID) that allows two-way communication, which means both devices involved can send and receive information.

This short-range wireless connectivity forms the backbone of many everyday conveniences, from making mobile payments and sharing digital content and contact information, to accessing secured buildings and using public transport.

In essence, NFC has subtly wiggled its way into our everyday lives, and most people likely had no idea the solution we use for so many daily activities was and is powered by NFC.

NFC Use Cases

As we have briefly touched on, there is a large variety of different use cases for NFC technology. Below are some examples of the most common ways that most people use NFC for basic functions.

Access Secured Building or Rooms

Near Field Communication has long been used as a form of secure entry to buildings or rooms. Whether it be your hotel room, an office, or a hospital. When you scan your card the technology that is facilitating that interaction is NFC.

Payment Facilitator

One of the most common use cases for NFC that you have likely been using over the past year is for payment processing. Most retail stores now offer NFC-enabled transactions via payment terminals. Typically where you would swipe your credit card, you can now either use Apple Pay, a digital wallet, or even simply tap your credit card on the terminal.


My personal favorite NFC use case is a relatively new niche of NFC business cards. An NFC business card is an innovative way to share contact information in seconds. Like traditional paper business cards, except you only need one card for life.

All you do is scan or tap your business card on a recipient’s phone and all the information that you want users to have is at their fingertips. This not only makes for a great conversation starter when networking, but offers a convenient way to share information professionally without the need for paper business cards.

Public Transportation

Whether it be a physical card or scanning of your digital wallet, most public transportation has moved on from quarters and moved to an alternative route with NFC at the forefront of payment options.

Smart Home Devices

NFC is used in smart home devices to simplify the pairing process of many of the devices you use on a daily basis. Just a simple tap can connect your smartphone to your NFC-enabled speakers, TV, or home security system.

Healthcare Applications

While this may not be as common of a use case for most people, NFC has made strides in the healthcare space by allowing secure access and functionality for patient identification, accessing secure medical records, and even assuring the correct medication is supplied to individuals.

The Future of NFC

As technology progresses, Near Field Communication (NFC) could provide not only valuable options but revolutionize use cases for many sectors. Below are a few potential ways Near Field Communication may be utilized.

  • Personal Health Monitoring: NFC could integrate with wearable tech for continuous health monitoring, providing real-time, personalized medical care.
  • Augmented Reality Experiences: By linking to AR, NFC could offer enriched interactions in sectors like retail, tourism, and education.
  • Smart Cities: With the rise of smart cities, NFC could enable contactless payments at parking meters, interactive city maps, and smart public utilities.
  • Advanced Vehicle Features: NFC could enable personalized in-car experiences, adjusting settings based on the driver’s stored preferences.
  • Environment Conservation: NFC tags could be used in smart waste management systems to monitor waste levels, improving efficiency and sustainability.
  • Frictionless Shopping: NFC, combined with AI, could enable a ‘grab and go’ shopping experience with automatic payment deductions.

While these are just a few glimpses into the potential of NFC, it’s clear that this technology holds a promising future, ready to further enrich our daily experiences.


In conclusion, Near Field Communication (NFC) has subtly become a cornerstone of our daily lives, offering convenience and efficiency in various forms. As we look towards the future, the potential applications of NFC are poised to redefine our interaction with the world around us, further integrating technology seamlessly into our everyday experiences. We can confidently say that this is just the beginning for NFC, and its future indeed looks promising.


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