About Near Field Communication

What is NFC?


NFC is a wireless communication technology that allows two devices to talk by tapping them together.

NFC is not something new. It is based on RFID standards. It has been around you for quite some time. Think about the card that you use to pay for your highway toll and commuter trains, or the card that you use unlock your hotel door. It is just that recently, more manufacturers are adding NFC capability to their products making it more accessible to consumers. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz and transferring data up to 424Kbits/second

NFC is meant to be simple, quick and intuitive. No pairings and no elaborate setups required. NFC interaction requires nothing more than a simple tap. Due to the short communication range, it is not easy to have unwanted reading or tracking making it one of the appealing factor of NFC.

With NFC, you can tap your mobile devices to your everyday objects and certain pre-defined actions will be performed like exchanging digital contents, interacting with your social networks, changing your device settings or even open an application on your device. With its simplicity, NFC is touted to be the technology that bind the physical and the digital world.

As of today, more and more NFC-enabled devices are being rolled-out by manufacturers which include mobile phones, tablets, gaming consoles and laptops.

NFC Forum is an industry association that promotes the usage of NFC. They introduced the N-Mark symbol above to indicate NFC availability for a product or service.

What is NFC Tag?

NFC tag

In NFC reader-writer mode, two components are required; a reader and a tag. Tap the two of them together and magic happens!

NFC tag is a small device with a microchip attached to an antenna. A small amount of information can be stored in the microchip to be transferred to another device. NFC tags are tiny enough to be embedded in all sorts of products such as stickers, key chains, labels and business cards

The good thing about NFC tag is that it is passive. That means, no battery or power source is required. NFC tags draw power from the device that reads them through magnetic induction. When an NFC device (e.g. your mobile phone) is near enough, it energizes the NFC tag and communication will take place.

What is NFC tag chip?

An NFC chip or IC is the brain of an NFC tag. There are various type of NFC chips in the market. They differ mainly on memory size, memory layout configuration, security features, price and other extra features. We list in the table below, the types of NFC chip that we stock in order to help you to choose the one that suits your needs.

Points to consider when choosing NFC chip

  • To make sure that your tag works with all NFC enabled devices, choose NFC Forum compliant chip
  • Study the data that you want to store in NFC tag, choose NFC chip with the smallest amount of memory yet enough for your data
  • NFC tag is meant for small amount of data. The more data that you put, the slower it will be to read and write. Try to store as little data as possible in your tag. For URL, a URL shorterner is a great tool
  • Locking a chip means putting the content as permenant read-only. Once locked, it cannot be undone. If you are putting your tags in public area, locking your tag is highly recommended
  • As long as you don't lock your tag, you can overwrite it over and over again

Popular and commonly used NFC chips

Ultralight NTAG203 NTAG213 NTAG216
Total Memory 64 bytes 168 bytes 180 bytes 924 bytes
Usable Memory 48 bytes 144 bytes 144 bytes 888 bytes
NFC Forum Tag Type Type 2 Type 2 Type 2 Type 2
Unique ID (UID) 7 bytes 7 bytes 7 bytes 7 bytes
Rewritable Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lockable Yes Yes Yes Yes
URL Length 41 characters 132 characters 132 characters 854 characters
Highlights Cost effective. Great for short URL. Great for general purpose tag. Good scan distance. Great for general purpose tag. Good scan distance. New generation chip. Large memory. Good for contact data (vCard). New generation chip.

Other NFC chips

Topaz 512 Mifare 1K DESFire EV1 4K DESFire EV1 8K
Total Memory 512 bytes 1024 bytes 4096 bytes 8192 bytes
Usable Memory 454 bytes 716 bytes 4094 bytes 7678 bytes
NFC Forum Tag Type Type 1 No Type 4 Type 4
Unique ID (UID) 7 bytes 4 or 7 bytes 7 bytes 7 bytes
Rewritable Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lockable Yes Simulated Yes Yes
URL Length 449 characters 711 characters 4089 characters 7673 characters
Highlights Enough capacity for contact data. Limited availability. Legacy chip but still widely used in the wild. Large memory but limited compatibility. Large memory. High price. Encryption capability with special application. Large memory. High price. Encryption capability with special application.
NFC Forum Tag Type (Type 1,2,3,4 tag) specification was introduced to ensure interoperability between different NFC tags and devices, providing a consistent user experience.

What can NFC do?

Some examples

  • You favorite cafe provides free Wifi to the customers. NFC makes one tap setup for wifi connection possible. To get connected, you just need to tap your phone to the NFC tag on the table where you sit. No searching and password entering needed
  • At the bookstore, tap your phone on a NFC tag on a book and you can read the synopsis and reviews of the book
  • You are walking down the street and saw a poster about a newly opened clothing store. How to get there? Just tap your phone on the poster and a map opens with directions from you current location
  • You book a room at a hotel online for your weekend gateway. The hotel provides a room number. When you arrived, just go to your room and tap your phone to open the door. No check in at the counter is necessary
  • You sew a machine washable NFC token in the pocket of your favorite jacket. At a function, tap your phone to the pocket to silent your phone. When the function ended, tap your phone once again to bring back the ring tone
  • You are doing your weekly groceries shopping at a supermarket. At the payment counter, you just tap your phone to pay and the system will record your customer loyalty membership
  • Your laptop is not working? Tap your phone on it to get your warranty information and customer support phone number
  • At work, tap phone on your desk to lower down the ringtone, turn off Bluetooth. At home, tap your phone to turn on Wifi, lower down the screen brightness

  • These are just some examples of what NFC can do for you. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!