Is NFC one of those acronyms that you’ve heard of but actually have no idea what it is or how it works? If so, it’s time to get educated. That’s because you’re about to hear a lot more about it, especially as contactless payment systems like Apple Pay become more widely accepted. So let’s break it down.
NFC, which stands for “near field communication,” is the technology that makes contactless payments possible. Contactless payments are transactions that don’t require physical contact between a device (like a smartphone) and the payment reader (as opposed to a magnetic-stripe card transaction, where you have to physically swipe the card).
NFC is a type of radio frequency identification (something called RFID) technology. An NFC payment is triggered when a smartphone is held a few centimeters away from a payment reader — so the devices can communicate wirelessly via a special radio frequency. Aside from the technology being pretty cool, the transactions are a lot quicker and more secure than magnetic-stripe cards.
As mentioned above, Apple Pay is arguably the buzziest of contactless payment systems. With both contactless payment methods, users can store their credit cards on their phone. While that might sound like a horrible idea, the technology is actually incredibly secure. That’s because NFC payments dynamically encrypt the data associated with your credit cards. Using something called tokenization, your credit card information is converted into a new random number with every transaction, which helps protect against fraud. Apple Pay payments are also locked down by Touch ID — which is Apple’s fingerprint technology. So even if you lose your iPhone, a fraudster couldn’t get at your credit card information.
Benefits of using NFC
NFC is the fastest and most convenient way to pay. Because it’s all through your mobile device (which, let’s be honest, is probably in your hands at all time anyways), there’s no fumbling for your wallet when you go to check out. And the actual transaction time is also a lot faster. As opposed to EMV chip card transactions (which can be sluggish to process), NFC transactions just take seconds. NFC payments are also a lot more secure. Because everything is dynamically encrypted through a process called tokenization, bank details are near impossible to isolate and extract. And Apple Pay transactions have fingerprint security (TouchID) to safeguard them as well.
How to Use NFC on iPhone
- To enable Apple Pay on your iPhone 6s or 6 Plus, open up Passbook.
- Add in the credit or debit cards you’d like to use for Apple Pay. If you already have a card associated with your iTunes account, it’s super-easy. You just add it to Apple Pay by entering the card’s security code. If you don’t have a card on file for your iTunes account, no problem. Just use the iPhone’s camera to take a photo of your card and fill in any additional info the app asks for (like your security code).
- After your card is verified, you can start using Apple Pay anywhere that accepts it.
- To initiate an Apple Pay payment on your phone, wait until the light on the payments reader comes on. Then just hold your device up to the reader with your finger on the Touch ID button so it can scan your print. Once everything checks out, things are set in motion. If you have a number of cards on file, you can select your default card or choose another from the cards you have on file. And within a few seconds, the transaction is complete
How to Use NFC on Android
- Find the Android Pay app on your phone. If it didn’t come pre-loaded, just download it from Google Play
- Add the card associated with your Google account by confirming a few details. You can also add a new card by snapping a picture.
- Then, to pay with Android Pay, just open the app on your phone (which requires you to have a secure lock screen) and complete the transaction by holding (or tapping) your device over the payments reader. The transaction happens in a few seconds.
How to Use NFC as a Business Owner
If you want to start offering NFC payment options at your business, you’ll need to get a new payment reader. That may seem daunting—but it doesn’t have to be. The Square Reader for contactless and chip works with the mobile device you already have.
It’s super easy to start accepting mobile payments right away. Here’s how it works.
- When you ring up a purchase, look for the green light to appear on the reader.
- Have the customer hover their NFC-enabled phone over the reader to pay
- You’ll get a checkbox on your screen when the payment is complete.
EMV vs. NFC — What’s the Difference?
Why Are EMV Cards More Secure Than Magnetic Stripe Cards?