When Google launched its flagship phone in 2010, there was a shock. The search engine had gone in partnership with Samsung, after ending its two-year affair with HTC. The first phone of the Nexus series came with a little feature called – NFC.
NFC stands for “near field communication.” The technology itself is not revolutionary or new. It is in fact a subset of RFID or “Radio Frequency Identification.” The RFID is an international standard used in radio communications. The standard was approved back in 2003-04. There was an attempt to popularize NFC during 2007 and 2008. Cold response from manufacturers stopped widespread adoption of NFC. There was little response for two years, when Samsung began manufacturing phones with NFC and Google declared its support for the technology.
A lot has changed since 2010. The industry no longer views NFC as an untested technology. The international NFC Forum now has more than 200 members, including the world's most popular search engine – Google. Several businesses in Japan and a handful of countries in Europe have already adopted NFC on large scale. There are serious discussions in India and the US to find new business models that utilize NFC.
Samsung is no longer the only manufacturer to make NFC-enabled phones. Nokia and other large makers have also jumped into the fray. The field is ripe. The next few years may witness many mundane things made easier and quicker by the use of NFC.
Currently the fields of retail, transport, and easier data transfer hold the most potential.
(a) NFC in retail
Services such as VISA Wallet and Google Wallet are promising to replace hard paper and metal currencies from our pockets and replace it with a set of electronic dots on a computer screen. One of the largest electronic wallet providers – Google Wallet – already supports NFC in monetary transactions. Users can use their NFC-enabled devices to pay with a tap at retail stores. This is quicker and more secure than payment through credit or debit cards.
A number of large multinationals – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile – are researching NFC tags' use in transportation. If the research yields results, you may no longer have to carry our passport to airport, or even wait in long queues to book a ticket to a train or bus. Public transportation in the next few years would be equipped with NFC readers which will permit public to walk into trains and buses just by tapping their NFC phones or NFC cards.
Even at airports people can pass through security checks, and buy tickets to their desired destinations using heir NFC enabled phones. There are already discussions of NFC powered transport systems in Dubai. If successful NFC tags in UAE will make transportation more convenient.
(c) Easier data transfer
Data transfer between devices with NFC cards is extremely easy and straightforward. It is less clunky than Bluetooth where both users have to unlock a password, yet it is safer. The extremely close range of NFC makes it virtually impervious to hack attempts.
NFC has been around for quite some time. It is only recently that the world has started paying attention to the development of NFC applications. The future seems bright.