Though NFC technology is nothing new, more credit and debit cards, smartphones and watches, transport passes and other items are using it to help us transfer data and make quick and easy purchases. Here we tell you what it’s all about.

NFC, which stands for “near-field communication”, is technology that enables the transfer of data between devices that are in close proximity to each other. 

It works via a magnetic field between the devices’ coiled antennae that establishes either a one-way (e.g. paying with a contactless credit card) or two-way connection (e.g. sharing images between mobile phones).

Contactless connections that make our day-to-day more efficient

NFC technology has many uses. However, it’s probably most known for contactless payments. To buy goods in many establishments, all we have to do is move a debit or credit card close to a point-of-sale (POS) terminal that also uses NFC. The same goes for when we pay with a virtual wallet or online banking app on a mobile phone or smartwatch

It also has other benefits:

    • Public transport passes: Many cities have pulled the plug on traditional paper tickets. Instead, digital passes have become a great way to get around. We can top them up in stations or affiliated outlets, tap them on turnstile readers and we’re good to go.
    • Device connection: We can transfer data using NFC technology and bluetooth; that’s how we pair wireless headphones with our mobiles.
    • Task automation: NFC tags are stickers with an integrated chip that we can configure to recognize a smart device and carry out automatic actions. For instance, we can place one on a bedroom door and programme it to automatically switch our mobile to silent mode when nearby.  

    NFC has become a trusted partner in our daily routine. Among its benefits are speed (connections are almost instantaneous); comfort (through automation); and security (a key challenge in the digital world), though it’s important to point out that NFC is not an authentication tool. 

    Want to find out more about mobile payments? Check out this article by Santander Global Tech, which debunks three mobile payment myths.

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