Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless technology that allows two devices to connect by emitting and, at the same time, receiving a signal. It enables bidirectional read-write communication.

NFC operates at a frequency of 13.56 MHz and allows a distance of less than 10 cm (NFC devices need to be in close proximity to transmit data). It operates at a transmission speed of up to 424 kbit/s and takes around 200 microseconds to establish an NFC link.

NFC devices communicate through a dialogue. One is the Initiator device, and the other is the Target, which must respond before initiating another request, similar to how Bluetooth operates.

The main components of an NFC-enabled mobile device include the NFC chip, a coil or antenna built into the phone, and the SIM card as a secure element. Additionally, it is essential for the device’s battery to be NFC-compatible. The NFC standard includes the NFC application layer, where security is a fundamental element, applied to especially sensitive use cases such as contactless payments.

As for the mobile device’s software, it consists of a series of applications called MIDlets that are downloaded to the NFC-enabled smartphone’s memory using the Over-The-Air (OTA) protocol. These applications include support for services such as contactless payments, customer loyalty programs, public transportation passes, etc. These apps, in turn, interact with the NFC applications of the secure element (SIM card), resulting in NFC services.

It is a technology with almost limitless capabilities. It naturally connects the offline world with the online world; you only need to touch an NFC chip with your smartphone to transition from reality to the virtual world:

  • Reading/writing tags on smart posters, stickers, or any other medium to access information or configure your NFC-enabled device (e.g., turning on or off Wi-Fi with a tag), and peer-to-peer data exchange (transferring a photo or a song between two NFC devices).
  • Identification on the subway or bus (an evolution of RFID technology used in magnetic stripe cards).
  • Physical access to the car, with the simple gesture of touching the car door with the smartphone, it opens, activates the air conditioning with the pre-programmed temperature, and even plays the song that was being listened to on the mobile before getting into the vehicle.
  • Loyalty cards. Various smartphone applications in development will integrate NFC technology for identification in certain places, allowing users to enjoy promotions.
  • Payments. The mobile phone will replace the wallet: by bringing the smartphone close to an NFC-enabled device, you can now make payments, from a coffee to a movie ticket.

NFC tags are small chips integrated into cards, tags, bracelets, labels, or other devices where information can be written. This information will be read (and possibly executed) by the NFC-enabled mobile phone, simply by bringing it close to the tag.

NFC tags are digital memories that do not require any direct power source because they are directly activated by the magnetic field of the NFC sensor in the mobile phone or the reading device.

The available memory is limited to a few bytes, although this is not a real limit: consider the possibility of writing a link to a web page, which can be applied to any object, brochure, pamphlet, poster, business card, clothing, product packaging, and much more, leaving room for creativity. They are similar to QR codes but have greater capacity, can be customized with graphics of your choice, and do not require any application to work.

Additionally, all NFC tags are equipped with a unique code, called UID, located in a part of the memory that cannot be changed. Through the UID, it is possible to uniquely associate an NFC tag with an object or a person and develop applications that identify and interact with them.

Transparent round NFC tags with NTAG216 chip.

The NTAG216 chips are faster in data transmission and have a wide reading range; they are compatible with all NFC devices.

  • Available memory: 888 bytes
  • Dimensions: diameter 38 mm
  • Medium-level water resistance: can resist contact with moist fabrics

Technical specifications

  • Chip: NXP NTAG216
  • Standard ISO14443 A
  • Standard NFC Forum Type 2
  • Operating frequency: 13.56 MHz
  • Antenna dimensions: Ø 35 mm