How about toys like Nintendo Amiibo or Skylander? As much as it seems like pure magic, it’s technology moving data; let’s demystify this technology.

What is the technology behind this magic?

Mobiles, smartwatches, and enabled devices use a wireless technology called NFC. Near-Field Communication is the same tech as things like building access cards and contactless payment but built for transferring a small amount of data at close proximity. It is a way for enabled devices to send or receive limited amounts of data very quickly.

Is it the same as my Credit Card contactless payment?

Similar, NFC evolved from the same contactless technology that allows you to use a mobile device instead of cards. This can certainly be more convenient than a wallet full of cards as you can load multiple cards onto your device and choose which one to use. The downside, you can’t pay if your mobile device has no battery.

Isn’t it just for mobile payment?

Mobile payment is how people got to know about NFC but it does have another usage.

There are advertising boards around the city which use an NFC tag to send you to websites with information about their products/services or even the timetable for the next plane, train or automobile you are wanting to catch when you tap your mobile phone to the tag.

You can even buy and program an NFC tag to do a certain task like switching wifi on or off or even directing a guest by sending them to a website on their mobile.

Recently we have seen NFC been used as a way to initiate a Bluetooth connection without needing to type in pin codes.

Can NFC be hacked? Can someone steal my details?

Yes, it is possible, but a lot of work is required on the hacker side for NFC to be hacked.

Here are the reasons why-

  • The hacker will need to have physical contact with your device to start communication
  • Any action after tapping on an NFC point like website redirection or installing apps must be allowed by the user before proceeding
  • Mobile payment like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay require authentication before any transactions are processed
  • NFC will not work if the lock screen is active unless setup prior

So how do I stay safe and secure using this?

Few tips to keep you safe –

  • Secure your mobile with a pin code as a minimum
  • Make sure you know where you mobile is locate
  • For Android, disable NFC when you are not using it, this will also save your battery life
  • For iPhone, NFC is only used for payment and must have TouchID configured
  • Make sure to check the NFC point is physically ok and has not been tampered

In summary…

NFC has come a long way from contactless cards to having your mobile phone as a way to interact with the world around you. Having an easy way to pay and interact with products/services or connecting equipment with just a tap is now a reality!