Translated by
2018/10/22 17:34:20

Near Field Communication (NFC) Short contactless distance communication

NFC (Near Field Communication, "communication of a near field") is the system of wireless high-frequency communication of a small range allowing to exchange data between devices which are at distance about 10 cm. It means that using NFC gadgets it is possible to pay purchases and services, a contactless method, to obtain the additional information about goods, etc.


How it works

In an operation principle of NFC it is similar to Bluetooth, but at connection to other NFC device it is not required to spend a lot of time for identification, connection is established almost instantly (for the tenth fractions of a second).

NFC is a wireless korotkodistantsionny technology which works at the frequency of 13.56 MHz which is used for the industrial, medical and scientific purposes. NFC is logical continuation of RFID technology, and the limited range became its main difference. While the distance of reading of RFID tags can reach several hundred meters, tags of NFC are available within 10 centimeters. NFC always has the initiator and the purpose. The initiator actively generates radio frequency field which can influence the passive purpose. NFC communication between two devices is also possible provided that both devices are switched on. Thanks to the compact sizes and low power consumption[1] can be used by NFC in small gadgets[2]

For data transmission of NFC uses coding with different percentage modulation depending on data transfer rate. At the same time NFC devices are able at the same time both to be received and to transfer data. Thus, they can control radio frequency field and detect contradictions if the received signal does not correspond to transferred.

Use options

Contactless payments

Main article: Contactless NFC payments

Main advantages of NFC technology are a speed of payment of goods and services, security and convenience. The technology allows to reduce holding time of clients significantly:

  • in shops,
  • in cafe,
  • at gas station,
  • on public transport
  • on parkings,
  • on cultural and sporting events, i.e. in those places where a large number of people is at the same time serviced and instant payment authorization is required, and the amount of purchase is rather small.

NFC is the reader mode

In this mode the smartphone acts as the scanner of the NFC tags containing the different additional information. Recently NFC tags began to force out barcodes. They can be found on food in supermarkets and, having brought the device with support of NFC, to learn an expiration date and structure of goods. Also NFC tags are applied to demonstration of the interactive ad info.

Time recording and accounting of school students

Besides, NFC can be used in systems of accounting of working time of staff of the Time&Attendance (T&A) enterprises and also in such innovation services as electronic key from the house, for control of visit of school and a power supply of pupils.

"Smart posters" in advertizing

In particular, "smart posters" (Smart Posters) on the basis of NFC technology give to advertisers new opportunities of interactive marketing with a binding to location of the user. The C of their help potential clients can quickly and easily obtain the additional information about a product, the advertizing offer, receive the coupon on a discount, subscribe for service, take part in vote and so forth.

NFC peer-to-peer operation mode

In this case two devices communicate with each other for information exchange. Thus it is possible to transfer contacts from one smartphone to another or settings with Wi-Fi-router for the mobile device.

Market of NFC technologies

2014: MarketsandMarkets: the market of NFC by 2022 will increase to $16.25 billion

Experts of MarketsandMarkets analytical company made in the summer of 2014 the forecast that the market of NFC by 2022 will increase to $16.25 billion. Annual average growth will be about 8.83%. The research was conducted in the following directions of the market: products (integrated microcircuits, cable terminals, reader devices, emergency devices), applications (payments, transportation, armoring, data exchange, service maintenance, access control, etc.) and on geography of producers.

According to experts of MarketsandMarkets, the market of NFC will prosper in the near future. NFC is very dynamic market and comprises high potential in many verticals of the industry. Technology achievements, thanks to permanent carrying out Research and Development, do this market by one of the most significant segments in the current industrial scenario. The products NFC are developed and constantly develop, new technologies allow to increase product lifecycle and systems and their reliability. Among features of NFC technologies experts note the high level of interaction with other devices supporting NFC, characteristics allowing to resist to severe conditions of the environment and longer term of service.

Competitive environment in the NFC market represents very interesting picture where a large number of small players gradually become force with which it is already necessary to reckon. The market is the witness of large-scale examples of cooperation and partnership in the direction of quality improvement of products and deliveries among players of first order worldwide.

According to the report of MarketsandMarkets, the main players in this sphere:

In the report of MarketsandMarkets trends of the market, the driver and a problem are also considered. Experts analyzed the NFC market of different regions: America (North America and South America), Europe (Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and other countries of Europe), Pacific Rim (China, Japan, Korea, India and other Asia-Pacific countries) and rest of the world (Near East, Australia and Africa).

America in this list is the largest geographical center in terms of the market value of NFC – this parameter in the USA is the biggest among other regions. The Pacific Rim was defined as the most quickly growing region and the leader in technology NFC devices. Europe also has very perspective market including Germany and Great Britain. The NFC market of other countries too gradually develops and there it is possible to observe certain tendencies to its growth.

Normative regulation of NFC in Russia

The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications published in the spring of 2015 on the website the order regulating use in Russia of the short haul devices NFC which are built in smartphones and[3].

The document of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications defines different characteristics of operation of NFC devices:

  • modulation parameters,
  • codings,
  • transmission rates,
  • radio-frequency structure of their interface and also
  • schemes of initialization and
  • the conditions required for control of conflict situations during initialization both for passive and for active modes of NFC.

Requirements imposed by the order of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications to NFC communication in Russia correspond to already established practices of its application.

Having announced emergence of the regulatory base of NFC, the Ministry reminded that devices with support of this protocol allow to implement "various services", for example, to use the mobile phone as the transport card, means of payment, etc.

Smartphones with support of NFC

2014: The share of smartphones with NFC reached 18%

According to analysts Euroset in 2014 the share of smartphones with support of NFC in the Russian market grew to 18%, and their share in revenue from sales in a year increased from 30% to 35%. Such big difference is explained by the fact that smartphones with support of NFC are twice more expensive than devices without this function, and their average cost is about 17,000 rubles. And, if the average price of phones without NFC in a year decreased by 7%, then the cost of smartphones with use of this technology was left without changes[4].

According to specialists of Svyaznoy according to whom, the share of NFC smartphones in the general sales of smartphones in 2014 remained at the previous level of 16%, and the share in revenue from their sales grew from 29% to 35%.

And analysts of J'son & Partners Consulting counted that in 2014 NFC smartphones occupied 17% of the Russian market at revenue share in 35%. As for number of POS terminals with support of contactless payments, their number doubled.

Journalists of Vedomosti specified that the number of the registered NFC devices in MTS network for 2014 doubled and reached a share in 8%, and penetration of NFC smartphones into networks of VimpelCom grew by 4 times. At the same time, analysts recognize that the Russian NFC market keeps so far on enthusiasts whose number does not exceed 2% of the general audience of financial services. And these payments did not gain mass distribution yet, and support of NFC is not critical criterion when choosing new phone.


125 million NFC phones are supplied to the world market

125 million NFC phones, and 147 million elements of security of NFC (secure elements) according to ABI Research were supplied to the world market in 2012.

The coefficient of the relation of sales of NFC-enabled of goods to sales of chips grows, NFC structures of vendors win the market, and their partners in the local markets which long time were inactive, complaining of small penetration of technology, today develop own innovation methods of application of NFC, bringing all new NFC services and NFC-applications on the market.

Big observed activity of developers it is concentrated around "not payment" NFC-applications designed to develop interactive communications of the user. The smartphones for gaining access to different content by easier and innovation method allow consumers to use such applications, and are at the same time profitable to vendors, increasing interest of buyers in their NFC products.

According to forecasts of Berg Insight (2012), sales of NFC smartphones will grow in the next 5 years with annual average growth rate (CAGR) at the level of 87.8% thanks to what in their 2016 700 million units will be supplied to the market.

In Russia 28 phone models with support of NFC are available

One of the pacing factors influencing market development of NFC is existence of the corresponding infrastructure and subscriber devices.

By data the middle of June, 2012, in Russia 28 models of phones/communicators with support of NFC from 8 producers were available:

The cost of phones with support of NFC begins from 6.4 thousand rubles (Samsung Wave 578 S5780) to 70 thousand rubles (BlackBerry Porsche Design P’ 9981).

The I quarter: 1.2% of the sold phones have support of NFC

According to J’son & Partners Consulting, in Russia significant growth of a share of sales of phones with support of NFC - from 0.7% in the 4th quarter 2011 up to 1.2% in 1 quarter 2012 is observed. However, for the end user of NFC in Russia is an unimportant option which actually has no impact on consumer demand and sales of smartphones.

For July, 2012 it is impossible to use phones with support of this technology in the Russian projects, as a rule, – the special NFC module which is installed in phone, or the bank card with support of NFC is for this purpose necessary.

2011: In the world 30 million phones with support of NFC are sold

At the end of 2011 in the world 30 million mobile phones with support of NFC were sold and not less than 40 NFC models are released.

According to forecasts of IMS Research, in 2012 in the world 80 million mobile phones with support of NFC and about 300 million NFC chipsets will be sold, and by 2015 these indicators will reach 400 million and 1200 million, respectively.

Image:Устройства с поддержкой NFC 2010-2015 IMS Research 12 2011.png

2010: Juniper Research: In 2014 300 million smartphones with the NFC chip will be sold

Juniper Research predicted in 2010 that by 2014 at least the fifth part of smartphones will be equipped with the NFC chip. And the total quantity of such communicators will reach 300 million. The greatest penetration of NFC technology, according to analysts, will be observed in the developed regions, in particular in North America and Western Europe.

2004-2006: Nokia 6131 is the first phone in Russia with support of NFC

In March, 2004 the companies Nokia, Sony and Royal Philips Electronics organized NFC Forum — non-profit association on standardization and promotion of NFC technology. In 2006 there was the first NFC specification and there was first commercial phone with the NFC chip — Nokia 6131, but this initiative did not receive full continuation. In 2011 joined NFC Forum Google.


The history of NFC technology originates in 1983. Then the electrician Charles Velton took out the patent for "the portable radio-frequency identifying radiator".

NFC in the world

The greatest distribution in the world was gained by services of contactless sale of tickets for public transport and actions (ticketing) and payments of goods and services.


In the middle of 2011 mobile operators of South Korea, plastic card issuers, producers of consumer electronics and the government organizations founded Grand NFC Korea Alliance which main objective – to create the new market with a capacity of $1 billion and more than 5 thousand new jobs.

Great Britain

In the United Kingdom the postal service is going to install 30 thousand NFC terminals in 11.5 thousand departments of postal service through the whole country (July, 2012). Users will be able to enter a service fee by means of MasterCard PayPass or Visa PayWave proximity cards and using smartphones with support of NFC technology.

Interesting initiatives advance banks. For example, clients of the Royal Bank of Scotland (Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS) since 2012 can receive cash (to 100 pounds sterling) in ATMs without bank card – for this purpose they need the smartphone.


In the summer of 2011 the government of France announced the readiness to invest €20 million for promotion of services based on NFC. Four mobile operators and four banks announced the plans for start of NFC services across the nation in 2012.


At the beginning of 2011 transport companies - the German national railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) and RMV company began cooperation over creation of national NFC ticket sales system in Germany.


The National Bank of Qatar (Qatar National Bank, QNB) in partnership with mobile operator Qtel offer clients a monetary bonus to 100 Qatar reals (about $27.5) at activation of the account for payments using NFC and made at least one transaction.


More than 70% of all transactions of e-commerce in the region are the share of Brazil, and now the country also gives an impetus to development of mobile payments, American Banker in November, 2014 reports. In Brazil the number of mobile phones exceeds number of inhabitants (272.4 million at the population of 199 million). Thus, Brazil is the world's fourth country on the value of the mobile market. At the same time, 65 million people — about a half of adult population of the country — do not use banking services. Like Kenya before emergence of a payment service of MPesa, it is ideal conditions for rapid development of mobile payments.

Brazil announced implementation of new regulation which encourages the competition in the field of mobile payments both among mobile operators, and among providers of payment services. In the country the system of interaction of all players in which charges and the commissions will be strictly controlled by the Central Bank is created. Besides, it will be paid much attention to NFC and contactless technologies.

In 2013 the number of smartphones in Brazil for the first time exceeded number of mobile phones. The Visa company, in turn, declared implementation of technology of contactless payments for the Olympic Games of 2016. Together with the new initiative integrating mobile operators, payment systems and the government, mobile payments can already in the nearest future not only show rapid growth, but also exceed all other payment methods in the Brazilian market.

Security of NFC

2018: Application of NFC for theft of data at rather long distances

On October 19, 2018 there was information that the specialist of Checkmarx company Pedro Umbelino showed the method under the name NFCdrip allowing to transfer small amounts of data (passwords or encryption keys) to rather long distances using NFC technology.

As you know, the NFC protocol allows two devices to interact with each other at distance up to 10 cm. However, as Umbelino found out, in fact the technology is capable to work at longer distances and as the result, can be used for the hidden extraction of data from physically isolated devices with disconnected by Wi-fi, Bluetooth or GSM.

The attack of NFCdrip assumes change of the mode of operation of NFC for modulation of data. In a case with OS Android change of the mode will not even require special permissions, the researcher noted. NFCdrip uses amplitude manipulation of OOK (on-off keying) when existence of a signal is considered as 1 bits, and absence — as 0 bits.

During the experiments the researcher showed how the malware set on Android device can be used for transfer of the password on another connected to the simple Android gadget AM receiver, located at distance of tens of meters. Data without problems are transferred to distance of 2.5 meters at a speed of 10-12 bits per second. By transfer on distance of 10 meters there are errors, but, according to Umbelino, they give in to adjustment. By transfer on a long distance the signal weakens and there is a large number of errors, however the expert nevertheless managed to transfer some data to distance of more than 60 meters. This value can be increased if to use the AM antenna and the SDR receiver, the specialist of Checkmarx assures.

According to him, the method can work on devices in "the flight mode" and poses a threat not only for Android devices, but also for notebooks and other types of gadgets. [5]

The competitor of NFC - color keying

On June 7, 2016 became it is known of development of technology of "color keying" of Payment Technologies company (Italy)[6].

Payment Technologies (Paytec) - developer of technologies for payment systems, works on implementation in the vending machines of this technology for acceptance of contactless payments using mobile devices.

The Opto technology allows consumers to register contactless payments from any smartphone without use of NFC, the company stated. The contactless technology transferring the data ciphered with a different frequency by means of "color keying" to the optical reader device in the vending machine.

Unlike NFC technology, in Opto what is in the smartphone — display light is used. Owners of all smartphones can pay for purchases using the mobile device.

The representative of Paytec company declared interest in release of technology from a number of operators of vending machines in Europe.

The Opto technology uses tokenization by means of tsvetokodirovanny light. Initially this technology was developed for the sector of sales of goods via vending machines. However scope of this technology is not limited to vending machines at all. For that matter, it is not limited also to payments.
Jonathan Hayes, CEO of Dinube company

Except convenience and a possibility of use on any smartphone, developers speak also about higher level of security of Opto technology in comparison with NFC. Though Nfcperedayet information with a small range, but in certain circumstances data can be intercepted and compromised. It is more difficult to intercept light signals as light of the display of the smartphone is naturally scattered by ambient illumination.

In development of technology the group of scientists of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) university and the staff of the center of innovations i2Cat took part in Barcelona, Spain.

See Also