Near field communication or NFC, is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 centimeters (3.9 in) distance.
The technology is a simple extension of the ISO/IEC 14443 proximity-card standard (proximity card, RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. An NFC device can communicate with both existing ISO/IEC 14443 smartcards and readers, as well as with other NFC devices, and is thereby compatible with existing contactless infrastructure already in use for public transportation and payment. NFC is primarily aimed at usage in mobile phones.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is used mostly in paying for purchases made in physical stores or transportation services. A consumer using a special mobile phone equipped with a smartcard waves his/her phone near a reader module. Most transactions do not require authentication, but some require authentication using PIN, before transaction is completed. The payment could be deducted from pre-paid account or charged to mobile or bank account directly.
Mobile payment method via NFC faces significant challenges for wide and fast adoption, while some phone manufacturers and banks are enthusiastic, due to lack of supporting infrastructure, complex ecosystem of stakeholders, and standards.
NFC vendors in Japan are closely related to mass-transit networks, like the Mobile Suica used on the JR East rail network. Osaifu-Keitai system, used for Mobile Suica and many others including Edy and nanaco, has become the de-facto standard method for mobile payments in Japan. Its core technology, Mobile FeliCa IC, is partially owned by Sony, NTT DoCoMo and JR East. Mobile FeliCa utilize Sony’s FeliCa technology, which itself is the de-facto standard for contactless smart cards in the country.
Other NFC vendors mostly in Europe use contactless payment over mobile phones to pay for on- and off-street parking in specially demarcated areas. Parking wardens may enforce the parkings by license plate, transponder tags or barcode stickers. First conceptualized in the 1990s, the technology has seen commercial use in this century in both Scandinavia and Estonia. End users benefit from the convenience of being able to pay for parking from the comfort of their car with their mobile phone, and parking operators are not obliged to invest in either existing or new street-based parking infrastructures. Parking wardens maintain order in these systems by license plate, transponder tags or barcode stickers or they read a digital display with their eyes in the same way as they read a pay and display receipt.