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What NFC Does For Your Phone

Could your smartphone replace your entire wallet?

The most common use for NFC technology is to turn a smartphone into a digital wallet. It can collect and store the data from credit and debit cards, and any other card with an NFC tag. The phone can then be used to complete financial transactions at businesses and banks equipped with NFC capable machines.

Some apps, like Android Beam, allow two phones to share and transfer contact files, photos, and even games.

There are a few forward thinking businesses, like the Museum of London, who have started integrating NFC tags into some of their displays. Visitors can touch their phones to a display's tag to get more information about the exhibit and even interact with it.

As the technology becomes more widely implemented, there are numerous arrays of possible applications for smartphones.

Anywhere a card is used to interact with an object, an NFC tag can replace the card. It is conceivable that a smartphone could one day replace library cards, customer rewards cards, hotel key cards, driver's licenses, passports, health cards, and even fobs for keyless access to cars.

In addition to museum displays, why not use a smartphone to interact with marketing displays in a store, ads in a magazine, bus schedules, or subway maps?

But what is NFC?

NFC is a new use for old radio technology — more specifically radio frequency identification (RFID), which uses electromagnetic fields to communicate with other devices in close proximity.

How close do the devices have to be to communicate? They should be 10 centimeters apart or less (under 4 inches). Since it is a radio frequency, it does not require any sort of connection to the Internet or any server.

Radio chips, more commonly referred to as tags, hold small amounts of read-only memory. These tags are becoming more and more common. They originated with shipping labels, but can now be found on designer clothing, credit cards, and advertisements.

There is another component to NFC technology; the applications and programs that tell tags what to do with the data. An active tag in a machine, such as a debit machine at the grocery store, requires the proper software to tell it how to handle the financial data stored on the passive tag on a credit card.

Most importantly, you need to be careful with your security. Almost any software company can make NFC tags; few of them are properly secured. It's a very simple process to “clone” a tag, hiding vicious malware or a virus for your device. Instead of hiding from this technology, simply make sure that the tag is protected by security technologies. Find an app, like BLACKSEAL, that will ensure your phone connects with protected tags.

NFC has the potential to reduce the size of wallets, save on paper and plastic, and enhance customer and patron interactions. So what is NFC currently doing for your phone?

About this Blog

The TrustPoint Innovation Blog covers security industry topics relating to Certificates, Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communication, Near Field Communication (NFC), Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communication, and more.

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