NFC: NEAR-FIELD COMMUNICATIONSA Look Into the (Near) Future of NFC          NFC, HUH?                   read information  ...
chips are already on the market    play. The initiator is the active      guided museum tour with NFCand the iPhone 5 is e...
Below are just a few scenarios that Pairing NFC and consumer                riders looking for information onillustrate th...
well as the opportunity to gather     modification, eavesdropping, and      As the technology matures andvaluable market r...
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NFC: Near Field Communication - A Look Into the (Near) Future of NFC


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This informative whitepaper about Near-Field Communication examines the background, delves into the three modes of operation (read/writer, peer-to-peer, and card emulation) that will allow for the integration of NFC, and explores its various uses. More importantly, NFC security concerns are discussed, as well as the benefits offered by the technology.

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NFC: Near Field Communication - A Look Into the (Near) Future of NFC

  1. 1. NFC: NEAR-FIELD COMMUNICATIONSA Look Into the (Near) Future of NFC NFC, HUH? read information decessor. NFC operates at high frequencies (13.56 MHz) to allowImagine if your smartphone could Sony and Philips first developed the exchange of data betweendo everything from make con- NFC in 2002. As an extension of enabled devices. Communicationtactless payments with a tap of RFID, NFC is completely compat- begins when two enabled devicesyour phone to become your hotel ible with existing structures, tags, are in extremely close proximityor house key. Away with all your and contactless smart cards. to each other (4 - 10cm) or if twoCVS, Giant, Safeway, and Staples It does, however, dramatically enabled devices physically touchloyalty cards—let your smart- differ from its pre- one another. In essence, thisphone take their place. Does it technology brings connectivityseem like something from a Hol- to the physical world.lywood movie? Well, reality saysotherwise. A not-so new technol- The Near Field Communica-ogy, near field communication, tion Forum was created inis on its way to simplifying our 2004 and seeks to advancelives even more. NFC technology by develop- ing specifications, educatingNFC is a short-range wireless the market about NFC, andconnectivity technology that ensuring interoperability amongbuilds upon Radio Frequency services and devices. TheIdentification technology. forum’s 140 members consistWhat exactly is RFID? of application developers, fi- nancial services institutions,• It is capable of accepting manufacturers, and more. and transmitting infor- mation beyond just a few NFC PREDICTIONS meters; it is less restric- tive than NFC NFC-enabled mobile devices• It uses radio frequency stand to benefit most from the waves that act as pas- type of technology NFC provides. sive, active, or a combi- Factors such as chip, handset, and nation of both tag manufacturers have slowed• It does not need a its adoption to this point, but direct line of sight to Android devices that contain NFC Contact PointAbout at 202.391.0347, or visit for more information.
  2. 2. chips are already on the market play. The initiator is the active guided museum tour with NFCand the iPhone 5 is expected to device, which contains power tags placed throughout an exhibit.have built-in NFC capabilities as sources and is usually a mobilewell. device that contains an NFC read- 2. Card Emulation Mode er/writer. The target is the passive The Card Emulation Mode in-In comparison to countries abroad, device, which does not have any volves the NFC device acting as avery few devices equipped with available power sources. The pas- NFC tag, similar to the traditionalNFC exist in the U.S.; these few sive device contains an NFC tag, contactless smart card. When youinclude Nokia, Samsung, LG, and which is basically a printed circuit make a payment, for example,Motorola devices. According to integrating stored data and an you touch your device to a NFCthe latest research by Merca- antenna which can be read by an reader, which receives or readstor Advisory Group, 116 million NFC-enabled device. the necessary data.smartphones equipped with NFCwill ship this year. Between 2012 The NFC Forum developed three 3. Peer-to-Peer Modeand 2015, the shipment number modes of operation that will The P2P Mode is when two de-should rise to 510 million. allow for the integration of the vices exchange data. Suppose technology into our daily lives. business owners John and Jane NFC devices can easily switch meet for the first time at a mobile IN A NUTSHELL: from one mode of operation to strategy conference and they HOW NFC WORKS another. These modes are: want to keep in touch. With NFC there’s no need to carry aroundNFC is often called an “application 1. Reader/Writer Mode and exchange business cards;enabler.” It opens various roads of The Reader/Writer Mode is usu- instead, it would only take a tapcommunication and transactions ally for the exchange of content of their phones to trade theirin a quick, user-friendly way. This information. For instance, if you contact information.not only makes electronic services come across a movie poster withor other interactions accessible an NFC tag, you can download NFCto more people, but it also tran- any available data (such as a USES/SCENARIOSscends age and technical ability. movie trailer, a discount coupon, or reviews) by reading the tagSo how does it work? Think of NFC with your NFC-enabled device. NFC-like technology is not a newperforming a handshake between Another great example is a self- commodity. Think about the IDtwo devices that are close togeth- badges or key fobs that open doors. Remember when Master-er. The device that first extendsor initiates the handshake is the 116 MILLION Card (PayPass) and ExxonMobil“initiator” and tries to establish SMARTPHONES (Speedpass) implemented their “pay on the go” mini kiosks? Thesea connection. Once connected,the two devices exchange data EQUIPPED are very common examples, but there are countless more whichthrough NFC directly or throughother wireless technologies such WITH NFC WILL breed convenience, synchroniza-as Bluetooth and WiFi. BE SHIPPED tion, productivity, communica- tion, and the rapid exchange ofLet’s take this a step further and THIS YEAR. information—all in real-time.look at the roles the two devices Contact PointAbout at 202.391.0347, or visit for more information.
  3. 3. Below are just a few scenarios that Pairing NFC and consumer riders looking for information onillustrate the limitless possibilities electronics works similarly but transit schedules.offered by NFC. depends on the overall size of the transfer data. For instance, data Most public transportation re-1. Contactless Payments that is reasonably small (up to a quires fare, which comes in theThe most common example is kilobyte) may solely use NFC to form of a paper ticket, plastic/contactless payments: using a transmit the data, but other situa- metal token, or an electronicmobile device as a digital wal- tions may call for NFC to establish card. The use of NFC technologylet. Say you’re on the way to another wireless connection removes the burden of carryingthe office, but you want to stop method (such as Bluetooth or cash, loose coins, and/or creditfor your morning cup of coffee. WiFi) to carry the information for cards. Commuters will profit fromWith just a swipe or tap of your sharing. being able to monitor real-timemobile device, you can be in and transit information and schedulesout quickly, eliminating the need Suppose you have photos on via signs that are embedded withto carry cash or your credit card. your mobile device or digital NFC-readable information.In terms of contactless payments, camera that you want to print. InNFC technology can also include that case, you’ll touch your devicethe extension of redeemable against the NFC-enabled, promotions, and the Because of the size of the files, ENTERPRISE ADVANTAGES &use of loyalty cards. At the time BENEFITS OFFERED BY NFCof purchase, customers can swipe In essence, thismobile phones to unlock a varietyof discounts. technology NFC presents numerous benefits2. The Sharing of Content brings connec- to both mobile users and busi-We do everything with our mobile tivity to the nesses. In general, it is a versatile technology that can find a nichedevices—take pictures, recordvideos, take notes, read, write/ physical world. in virtually every industry or situ- ation. Convenience and simplicityedit documents, build contacts, of use are obvious to music…all you’ll connect via Bluetooth to The compatibility between NFCof which we love to share. NFC transmit the digital photos from and existing RFID structures, tags,technology promotes quick and the device to the printer. and contactless smart cards iseasy sharing between two mobile another plus because it elimi-devices, as well as with other 3. Ticketing & Transportation nates the need to create and/orconsumer electronics such as The transportation industry is develop an entirely new system.cameras, TVs, and printers. Most one of the industries set to reapimpressively, trading informa- the benefits of using NFC. Ac- Given the wide range of pos-tion only requires a quick touch cording to the American Public sibilities for developers and thebetween devices. In the office, Transportation Association, number of devices that will soonyou can streamline business and nearly 14 million people depend come pre-equipped with NFCrevolutionize the way you swap on buses, trains, light rails, sub- chips, it has become a very at-business cards, spreadsheets, and ways, cabs, and trolleys each day. tractive technology. Market anddocuments. That’s a substantial number of consumer outreach efforts, as fare transactions, not to mention Contact PointAbout at 202.391.0347, or visit for more information.
  4. 4. well as the opportunity to gather modification, eavesdropping, and As the technology matures andvaluable market research, are just “man-in-the-middle” attacks. De- NFC-enabled smartphonesthe beginning. For instance, a pending on the mode (passive or hit the market, companies arecustomer in a mall scans a shirt’s active) of the devices in question, actively researching, seeking,NFC tag with their mobile device the attack may or may not be a and developing ways to combatto gather more information on success. threats. It is imperative to craftthe product (such as availability safe and secure ways to transmitin another store location, size in- Threat: Data modification, in information.formation, or perhaps the lowest short, is when an attacker intendsprice). Once the customer receives for a valid, but manipulated, mes-the requested product data, the sage to be sent to the receiving CONCLUSIONcustomer’s interest in the product phone.can then be made known to the Solution: Establish a securecompany, which helps them un- channel or rely on the NFC device Like all new technologies, securityderstand the customer’s interests. to continuously check the radio concerns still remain. Neverthe-This leads to a deeper knowledge frequency field while transmitting less, the benefits of NFC mobileof the consumer and could en- information and to discontinue services are immeasurable.hance targeted marketing (e.g. the transmission when a threat is NFC-enabled devices can changetailored promotions, loyalty point detected. the way we make transactions,incentives, and coupons). exchange information, and send Threat: Eavesdropping is a more and receive data.This also works in reverse. Using common threat because devicesNFC, consumers can effortlessly communicate through radio fre- In 2011, the big names in mobileshare information about com- quency waves. An attacker, using technology plan to integratepanies—sales, promotions, and an antenna, can literally grab and NFC with their new devices.product data—that can result in decode the transmitted signals. Both Android and Blackberryan increase in foot traffic, sales, Solution: Establish a secure already have or will have NFC-and referrals. channel. supported models; the media predicts that Apple will follow suit TACKLING SECURITY Threat: Albeit a rarity, the “man- in its next generation of iPhones. ISSUES in-the-middle” attack involves The next few years will see more two parties that want to start a NFC support in mobile devices.The development of technology conversation but that instead get It’ll be a matter of time beforeand ease of sharing raise security duped by an attacker into a third commerce, transportation, andconcerns. As NFC continues to party conversation. other institutions develop thedevelop, more security risks are Solution: Use active-passive infrastructure to jump into thecoming to light. Common at- communication mode. game.tacks and threats include data Contact PointAbout at 202.391.0347, or visit for more information.