NFC payments offer convenience, speed, and ease of making payments, things people love in the present world.
The need for such payment systems has increased in the past couple of years, especially after the pandemic where contactless payments were necessary.
On the other hand, traditional methods of cash payments are not flexible. You can’t possibly walk with a huge sum of cash in your hand and then hand it over to a merchant.
Instead, you can just take out your phone, go to a payment processing app like Google Pay, type the amount, and pay it right there.
It’s as easy as it sounds!
In this article, I’ll discuss NFC and the best NFC platforms you can use.
What is NFC?
Near-field communication (NFC) is a wireless technology used for sharing data between two electronic devices placed in close proximity to each other.
This short-range communication protocol enables smartphones, payment cards, tablets, wearables, and other electronic devices located at a distance of 4 centimeters or less to connect and share data easily and quickly.
Using NFC technology, you can pay your bills, exchange business cards, share information, download coupons, and so on, with just a single touch.
Originally, NFC was used in the industry of payment cards, but now, it’s evolving and used in many industries across the globe.
How Do NFC Payments Work?
NFC works on the principle of inductive coupling between antennas, like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). The latter was invented decades before and is used widely across the world. For example, you might have used a valid card to access a hotel room, and that’s how NFC works.
You can also say NFC is an extension to RFID, but the former is implemented for shorter ranges. It involves a reader device where an electric current passes through a coil to generate a magnetic field. So, when you bring a tag having a coil of its own near this device, the magnetic field starts inducing an electric current in the tag without any physical contact or wires.
Once this initial connection is established, stored information on the tag transmits wirelessly to the reader. NFC’s range is a few centimeters only, and in a large number of smartphone applications, NFC software can initiate connectivity only after physical contact. It helps prevent cybersecurity issues, data privacy risks, etc.
Furthermore, an NFC device can work as a tag or a reader. As a result of this capability, you can use only one hardware (like a smartphone) for multiple applications. There are three ways that you can use NFC:
Read/write: Active devices like smartphones can pick information from passive devices that can’t read information by themselves.
Card emulation: Using an NFC device for Payment processing like contactless credit/debit cards.
Peer-to-Peer: Two NFC devices can connect to share data.
NFC technology is used in various devices:
Smartphones, including iPhone 6 and up and Android phones 4.0 and up
Wearables like fitness trackers (Mi Band), smartwatches (Apple Watch), etc.
What Are the Benefits of NFC Payments?
Ease and Convenience
Your customers expect an easy and hassle-free experience while making payments. Through NFC payments that they can directly perform from their smartphones, it becomes highly convenient for them to pay you just with a tap. And even if they prefer cards, NFC has it covered as well.
More Customer Engagement
Both customers and businesses want faster, more secure, and easier transactions. And when you offer all these with NFC software, your customers would love doing business with you. It enhances their experience and encourages them to visit and buy more from you. This way, you build mutual trust and customer loyalty, which eventually translates to more customer engagement and conversions.
In addition, businesses get the opportunity to effectively integrate loyalty programs, gift cards, coupons, and other offers. You can also check the analytics to gain valuable insights regarding your customers and profit sources and implement the information to improve your strategies.
Increased Operational Efficiency
NFC payments offer faster transactions to save your customers valuable time, which they love. Instead of boring them with traditional cash-based methods or keeping them waiting to register, give them a faster way to make payments. This also increases your operational efficiency since you can save time on each transaction.
In addition, NFC payments are easy to set up and implement with your workflow. All you would need is NFC payment terminals such as integrated point-of-sale systems or credit card terminals. Also, setting up the system is hassle-free and quick, so you can accept payments through mobile wallets and cards to facilitate contactless payments.
Apart from the above benefits, NFC payments also offer affordability for businesses of all sizes and different types. They can collect payments from multiple platforms like mobile wallets, credit cards, and debit cards.
Near-field communication (NFC) payment systems are built to be safe and secure. The word “near” in NFC denotes that it works in close proximities only, which can be a few centimeters of the gap between the two devices establishing an NFC connection.
Unlike other wireless technologies, no one can hack or compromise NFC signals from a distant place in a city, street, or room. Additionally, smartphones, where NFC technology is enabled, are also built with security technologies like biometrics, passwords, and other authentication mechanisms, making NFC transactions more secure.
Moreover, mobile wallets offer better stability and security compared to magnetic strip cards. Using a mobile wallet for payments, customers’ data will be exposed just once when they enter their card details into the wallet. However, this data is encrypted in the next step to maintain security and privacy.
So, every time a user uses the mobile wallet at an NFC terminal for making payments, “virtual” payment information will be sent to the payment system from their mobile phone. The NFC technology won’t expose the full card detail ever. Also, the virtual data of the user will be quickly encrypted using PCI-validated methods by the payment processor.
This is how NFC technology protects users’ data.
NFC Use Cases
Apart from mobile payments, NFC is used for various use cases in industries like healthcare for patient monitoring and care management, airlines for boarding purposes, travel for room booking and flight booking, hospitality for room access and building management, and more. It’s used for:
On-screen data transfer to other NFC-enabled systems
Quick pairing for a device with no screen and initiating Wi-Fi Direct connections
Home automation like Apple HomeKit and Home Assistant support NFC to control different devices
Access control method for public transport
Gaming, like Nintendo, connects different physical toys to video games
Does Every Smartphone Have NFC?
Sadly no! This is still a premium feature that hasn’t yet reached most budgets and some mid-range smartphones.
The best way to ensure this is with your user manual or the connectivity section if you’ve purchased it from Amazon.
In addition, this also depends on the supporting application.
For instance, you can’t use NFC on an iPhone 13 with Google Pay, even though it works with Apple Wallet. In addition, iPhone 13 has NFC in an always turned-on state, and there is no toggle to switch it off in the settings section, unlike what we see with Android.
Conclusively, you should have an NFC-enabled smartphone and a supported application for this to work.
How to Pay With NFC
Paying with NFC is effortless. You need to simply tap your NFC-enabled smartphone on the capable POS devices to proceed. Compatible devices will have a contactless payment symbol on them, or you can ask the payment executive.
There may be an added authentication step for the payment to complete, but that’s about it.
How to Receive NFC Payments
Receiving NFC payments is a multi-step process that chiefly includes these steps:
Registering at a payment processor
Buying an NFC-enabled PoS device
Setting up the system
The first step is the most crucial one, where you pick NFC payment platforms.
Next, you must purchase a PoS machine accepting contactless payments. However, you should check if your payment processing company has any list of compatible devices. If not, you’re mostly free to choose the device to suit your needs.
Finally, you can go through the user manuals to set up the system and run a few test payments to ensure everything works as intended.
NFC vs. UWB vs. Bluetooth
Comparing Bluetooth and NFC is like that apples and oranges thing. While both are short-range wireless technologies, they are meant for different use cases and have a vastly unique feature set.
For instance, NFC has a very short range of a few centimeters. It’s specially designed for contactless payments and uses less power than a typical Bluetooth connection.
On the other hand, Bluetooth is more suited for file sharing, audio transmission, wireless control, etc., up to a few meters range. It’s more energy-intensive and generally perceived as less secure than an NFC connection.
Another crucial aspect of NFC is that it doesn’t require pairing, which is the signature of all Bluetooth connections.
While NFC and Bluetooth are very popular, UWB (Ultra-wideband) is an upcoming technology yet to be widely adopted. However, it boasts excellent security and performance, which makes it a perfect candidate for many use cases, including contactless payments.
UWB functions up to tens of meters and overlaps with NFC and Bluetooth for many applications.
For example, UWB can replace Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for indoor positioning and is used in Apple AirTags and Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+. Moreover, UWB can be used for peer-to-peer contactless payments, and Samsung is also using this technology for efficient file sharing.
There are many more UWB use cases, but it’s yet to reach widespread adoption, which will invite user scrutiny to reveal any potential flaws as well.
Now, let’s find out the best NFC platforms for making payments.
Experience the power of world-class payments and a human touch to every transaction with Helcim. It offers 100% transparent pricing and the lowest interchange rates for transactions to help you save money. Helcim has no hidden charges, monthly fees, or contracts. Its pricing as of now is:
An average PIN-Debit rate of 0.91% + 8 cents
In-person average pricing is 1.92% + 8 cents
Keyed and online average pricing is 2.38% + 25 cents
Helcim supports payments through Google pay, Amazon Pay, American Express, Visa, and Discover. By using one account, you will get unlimited access to Helcim’s all payment solutions along with tools for your business needs. This way, you can save money and time.
Using Helcim, you will get many software solutions and payment tools to quickly get paid. Some of the features are:
Generate quick invoices
Calculate pricing accurately
Point-of-sale and eCommerce features
A customer portal
Helcim is best for small businesses and those willing to accept payments through debit and credit cards in person or online. Get started with Helcim for FREE.
Keep your business moving with an efficient card reader – PayPal Zettle. This portable solution works everywhere your shops are and helps you pair it with the Point-of-sale application to get all the essential features to run the business effectively.
You can accept contactless online payments or through cards. Let your customers choose how they would like to pay by offering them different options – PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Union Pay, RSS Pay, UCB, Discover, Visa, American Express, and Mastercard. For card payments, there are three ways to pay:
Tapping the chip card on the card reader and paying touch-free
Swiping the card
Inserting the card into the card reader
PayPal Zettle is quick to set up to help you get started and sell really quickly. Just sign up for FREE, purchase PayPal Zettle, and download the app on your tablet or smartphone. Additionally, you can email or print receipts, send them to your customers, and get paid. PayPal will usually take just one business day to transfer the payments directly to your PayPal account.
Features of the card reader:
Power it on in just two seconds
Chip card payments within 10 seconds and contactless payments within 5 seconds
A quick-charging battery lasting up to 100 transactions or 8 hours
It supports Android 8.0 and up and iOS 12 and up for tablets and smartphones with Bluetooth.
There’s no long-term commitment or monthly fee; PayPal Zettle just takes 2.29% of the transaction fee + $0.09 per transaction. The PayPal Zettle’s POS application is FREE, and the card reader costs $29 and $79 each for more card readers.
Offer your customers a faster, simpler, and more reliable way of making payments both in-store and online with Google Pay. Just a click is enough for customers to choose their preferred payment method from their Google Account and check out different sites and apps instantly.
Google Pay offers easy checkouts to save customers’ time and increase your conversion rates. Since Google has users in billions and cards in millions, leverage its power to get paid. You can set up Google Pay effortlessly on your sites and apps through its integration.
When your customers pay using Google Pay, they don’t have to pay any charges since Google Pay is FREE. Google stores your payment information securely and shares only essential data required to complete each transaction. In fact, it doesn’t share the customers’ real payment data. Instead, it uses a unique encrypted number to secure its data. This helps reduce data exposure and cybersecurity risks.
With enhanced identity and security controls, Google Pay transactions are mostly successfully compared to card-only transactions. Google Pay will save your customers’ time digging for the cards. Instead, they can use their device and pay quickly. Invite your nearby customers with attractive offers and send them reminders in real-time to use coupons, gift cards, and other offers when they visit.
Furthermore, the Smart Tap technology by Google makes it effortless for customers to stack loyalty points and rewards by holding their smartphones to an NFC point-of-sale terminal. In addition, it enables customers to store gift cards, offers, and loyalty points in a single place to facilitate more engagement.
Bring your business to the customers, whether at a job site or farmer’s market. Use the Clover Go application and its portable card reader anywhere and get paid. They both are easy to use and offer you the power of POS anywhere with a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.
You can pair the credit card reader with the Go application for your phone to accept, dip, swipe, or do contactless payments with lower fees. Anyone can download, install, and use this app easily and get paid in no time. This application works with all the leading operating systems irrespective of phone type.
Synchronize everything in the Clover Dashboard and stay on the top of your game. In addition, you can set discounts, tax fees, tips, and other useful things directly using the POS dashboard accessible through your phone. You can also view all your transaction history, including completed, open, and pending transactions performed on your mobile, another Clover device/system, or card reader.
Accept contactless, swipe, and chip payments, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay.
Connectivity with Bluetooth and micro-USB for charging
Battery life is around 160 dip, 130 contactless, or 160 swipe transactions per charge
Compatible devices are iOS 10 and Android 4.4 and up
Clover Go’s pricing starts from $49 per month.
Get a simple way of contactless and card payments using Square. It supports contactless (NFC) cards, Google pay, Apple Pay, and chip cards. You can also connect wirelessly to accept debit and credit cards and get paid directly in your bank account faster.
If you have Square, your customers won’t have to produce cash to make payments. They can simply hold their contactless cards or devices closer to the NFC reader and trigger a contactless and fast payment. You can also connect it to your Android or Apple device through Bluetooth LE without a headset jack.
Furthermore, Square offers an intuitive and quick checkout experience, real-time reporting, and inventory to make smart business decisions. You can also easily add team members and devices with your growth and keep your sales synchronized to your single account.
Get paid quickly with Square Reader through a chip or contactless payments. This solution is one of the fastest ways of making payments for processing chip cards. It also has a powerful battery so you can charge faster and receive payments every day. In addition, mount your Square Reader securely onto your smartphone with an Otterbox universe case compatible with iPhone XR.
Square charges at a rate of 2.6% + 10 cents for each tap or dip for Mastercard, Visa, Amex, and Discover. The NFC reader is priced at $49.
Stripe offers pre-certified card readers that are easy to use. You can also set up your reader with a few clicks or refer to its documentation to do it.
The Stripe Terminal is compatible with Stripe’s card readers only, which ensures more secure transactions with up-to-date readers and end-to-end encryption. It also comes with a remote management tool to set up and manage these things.
Stripe’s card readers are many:
Stripe Reader M2
BBPOS Chipper 2X BT
BBPOS WisePOS E
BBPOS WisePad 3
In case you don’t have a card reader, order it from the Dashboard to receive it to your preferred location. You can also enable the connected accounts and receive accessories and readers to your business location.
If you feel confused about choosing a reader, you can design your integration to choose the right card reader that can work seamlessly with your physical sales systems and applications. Before processing payments, connect a Terminal reader directly to the point-of-sale application via a Terminal SDK.
Embrace the changing way to pay and get paid using NFC payments. The above-mentioned NFC platforms are all great. Hence, you can choose the one that best serves you based on your business type and other preferences.
Amrita is a freelance copywriter and content writer. She helps brands enhance their online presence by creating awesome content that connects and converts. She has completed her Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Aeronautical Engineering…. read more