You may have heard of or read the term “NFC” on the news or at a favourite web site. But what exactly does it mean? “NFC” stands for “Near Field Communications”. NFC refers to a set of standards that are used by portable devices, and this set of standards is what allows two devices to pass data between them by wither touching them together or placing them near each other.
Is NFC Like Bluetooth?
No. Although NFC is similar to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology in that it can send data over radio waves, it is not the same thing. It uses electromagnetic induction to transmit data and other information from device to device. Not only that, but NFC is far faster than Bluetooth at data transfer.
NFC is also more secure than other types of wireless connection. Because it only has a short range of approximately 1.5 inches, secure transactions are more able to be made. In fact, many establishments, such as grocery stores are now using NFC.
Modes of Operation
Currently, NFC works in three ways. The peer-to-peer mode allows two smartphones to exchange data. The read/write mode allows an active device to obtain data from a passive device. Finally, the card emulation mode allows a device to be used as a credit or debit card.
The Benefits of NFC to Business Owners
The contactless card emulation mode is likely the single most important NFC feature to business owners. This is due to all of the ways in which it can increase convenience for customers. When a company uses contactless payment, this reduces the time it takes for the transaction to be processed. This means the customer spends less time at the cash register, and the customers behind them spend less time waiting in line.
Another benefit of contactless payment is that it can assist those businesses who may have a small staff, or in situations where staff is limited on a particular day.
The contactless feature can also be used to make it easier for customers to take advantage of in-store discounts and promotions, as all of these, as well as any rewards points can be loaded directly onto their smartphones. The easier it is to reward customers, the more steadily that brand loyalty can be built.
NFC is also very useful in situations where many people are moving through a location at once, such as in airports and hotels, as well as on mass transit. Baggage can be checked in and located much more quickly with technology that places needed information on the personal devices of travellers.
Businesses using contactless technology find that their advertising campaigns are incredibly easy to track. When their customer visits a business, using their device to ‘check in’ to that location, and then goes on to make a purchase, each action – including any discounts redeemed via coupons or rewards points -will be instantly available to the business owner. As well, the path the client followed from check-in to purchase will also be made known to the business owner.
Customer Attraction and Retention
A business that’s in the technology realm can drive more customers to its location, simply by being implemented and used in the business. For example, a company that uses contactless technology to make paying for purchases more convenient for customers communicates to others that it is a company that embraces the latest technology.
Inventory and Asset Management Control
Inventory management can become far easier with NFC technology. Simply by placing an NFC tag on each item in stock, the information about all items can be accessed at will. Any updates to products can also be made in virtually no time at all, making the once-tedious job of inventory for more efficient and user-friendly.
Logistics and Transportation
Businesses involved in the shipping and delivery of products can confirm delivery status instantly using NFC. Delivery personnel can obtain any desired information about the package instantly and confirm it with delivery headquarters. And the customer in receipt of the package needs only to scan the NFC code of the received product to get more information about it.
How New Is NFC?
NFC is not a new technology. In fact, it was founded in 2004 by three major mobile phone manufacturers. However, it is relatively new to device users in the general public and is getting more popular all of the time, although it isn’t yet available for every device.
In fact, the popularity of NFC is so high that there are developers who specialize in the design and creation of apps which use it. There is no better time than now to understand how NFC is benefitting businesses now, and the impact that this technology will have on business in the future.
Beata GREEN is Managing Director of HeadChannel Ltd., London based bespoke software development company. She is responsible for overall strategic direction and overseeing the company’s continuing growth, building closer client relationships and maintaining best working practices. She enjoys brisk country walks with her red fox labrador and then relaxing in front of a TV crime drama.