NFC is a wireless communication technology a bit like WIFI or Bluetooth, it allows the transfer of data between two devices like a mobile phone and an NFC Tag. You might use NFC to pass data from an NFC enabled mobile phone to another NFC enabled mobile phone, from a mobile phone to a payment terminal or from an NFC tag to a mobile phone.
NFC is used for things like contactless payments, loyalty and rewards offers and coupons, security controls, marketing, events and even product identification are all able to use this technology. And the great part is that all of these applications require just an NFC enabled mobile phone to get started.
The beauty of NFC is in its simplicity. Once the tag has been encoded with the desired information or action, the tag is ready to use. The user simply touches the back of the phone against the tag, this will launch the URL or service encoded. No lining up cameras with barcodes or anything to download.
NFC technology works only at close distances – typically about 3 centimeters away. This close range makes NFC perfect for interaction and means that tags can’t ‘accidently’ be read or used for unwanted tracking. The ‘tap’ action is quite specific and part of the appeal of NFC as opposed to other longer range RFID technologies.
Almost all new smartphones now have NFC built in. In fact, nine out of ten of the top mobile manufacturers have now adopted NFC. Apple’s iPhone is the only major smartphone without NFC support. However, there still remains a question mark over how long NFC will take to become mainstream given the amount of phones that are still out there that where made prior to 2012.
Data Capture by NFC devices
In particular, the GSMA is focused on driving the standardised deployment of mobile NFC using the SIM as the secure element to provide authentication, security and portability across many different handsets. Adopting SIM-based NFC as a global standard will also ensure economies of scale and interoperability, which will be critical to the widespread adoption of NFC, enabling people around the world to benefit from NFC services, regardless of their operator network or device type.
Capturing data by NFC is very simple and in general you don’t have to ask permission for the data as it is freely given at the point of contact with the sale, the big concern here is what you do with the packet data received from the mobile device. Where is it stored? Are you ISO 27001 certified? Is your solution provider? Are you in the UK or abroad? What are you doing with the data once you get it? Are you marketing to it? If so normal marketing rules for SMS will apply regardless of them giving their consent at point of NFC adopted sale.
Potentially a data minefield if you don’t get this right and in the short term without wireless capability you will lose many potential customers who don’t have NFC enabled on their older phones but nevertheless NFC can provide a fantastic user experience and generate much needed stickiness for any brand.