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Near field communication (NFC) is a wireless technology that allows a device to collect and interpret data from another closely located NFC device or tag.
NFC employs inductive-coupling technology, in which power and data are shared through coupled inductive circuits over a very close proximity of a few centimeters. NFC is often employed through mobile phones or credit cards, where information may be read if it is passed very close to another such device or NFC tag.
NFC technology is similar to radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, but the contactless way in which NFC devices interact also bears similarity to Bluetooth.
Near field communication is not yet widely used, but it can be employed in contactless payment systems. It also provides a compact way to communicate information, which may be used for advertising or social media purposes.
NFC tags (or cards) are passive devices. They store data that can be retrieved by active NFC devices. The most common example of NFC use involves a contactless payment system, in which a smartphone can be swiped at an NFC reader (which are increasingly being installed near a store’s cash register) to make a contactless payment. The NFC device transmits information about the smartphone user’s credit card. In this case, the reader is the NFC tag, while the smartphone acts as an NFC device. Because NFC must occur within short range, the transaction is considered secure.