NFC or Near Field Communication is a wireless short range communication between two NFC-supporting devices. The range of NFC is around 10 cm. NFC is generally used for mobile payment systems, sharing files and information and even in games.


NFC Devices

NFC devices can be active or passive. A passive device just sends or transmits information to other devices, for example, an electronic advertisement. It can use up the power from the connected device and it does not necessarily need a power source. An active device, on the other hand, can read from other devices and even send signals and information to them, for example, your smartphone. There are three modes for using NFC.

Card Emulation

NFC device can be used as a contactless card for various transactions. You can make a payment or use it as your ticket card in transport system or even as a library card in a library.

Read/ Write

In this mode, the communication is one-way. Here, an active device connects to another device which may be active or passive and reads information from it. This mode is generally useful in reading advertisements or discount coupons.


In this mode both devices are active and they connect with each other and share information. This is the most commonly used mode. An example of this is file and data sharing between two devices.



  • Its security is enhanced by the short range. I mean how many interceptors will there be within 10 cm of your NFC device.
  • The connection between two device doesn’t require any PIN. Hence, NFC devices connect really fast within one-tenth of a second.
  • Passive NFC devices may not even need a power source. They can consume power from the device connected to it. Cruel, right!! 😛


  • The range is too short. And hence it is not suitable for many applications where devices may be at a distance.
  • The speed of data transfer is way slower than Bluetooth. So, it’s not suitable for sharing large amounts of data.

The most popular examples of apps using NFC are Android Pay, Apple Pay and Amiibo. One of the major application of NFC is mobile payment. Almost all phone nowadays support it. You can check out whether your older phone has NFC or not in this list of NFC-supported phones.

NFC on Wikipedia

Categories: Explained

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