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Near Field Communication Technology Application

Introduction

NFC is near field communication, which refers to the semantic field of data transfer and payment transactions because this method itself is a form of contactless payment, which should be as reliable and secure as possible. This protocol became widespread in the mid-2000s and is widely used as a technology in smartphones, checkpoints, contactless payments and many other areas where NFC technologies are being developed. This wireless data transmission standard is based on RFID technology or a unique method of automatic object identification, where the data stored in so-called transponders is read or written using radio signals (Singh et al., 2018). In fact, NFC can be considered a continuation of the already well-proven RFID technology. RFID is widely used in contactless cards and tags. However, NFC can read information from any passive electronic tags and can also provide two-way wireless communication between devices.

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For transmission purposes, devices must be spaced a few centimeters apart. It, in turn, gives NFC its most significant advantage: it is well protected against hacking from the outside. Although the transfer rate of 424KB – slower than Bluetooth – is sufficient to send small amounts of data, such as Internet links, in a fraction of a second (Singh et al., 2018). Thus, NFC provides a fast, easy and secure way to transfer data to a mobile phone without significant security risks, unlike alternative data transfer methods. The evidence base for this thesis lies in the explanation of the structure of this protocol itself, as well as the areas of application of this technology, where it is most promising and is already being used. Nevertheless, these systems have weaknesses and are vulnerable to security attacks during a transaction, due to the lack of mechanisms for verifying transactions by the user (Giese et al., 2019). As a consequence, the document will also present the current challenges facing the development of NFC.

NFC Application

Protocol Description

The technology is backward compatible with many of the widely used contactless card infrastructure standards used in public transport and payment systems but is primarily aimed at mobile devices. For the exchange between the two devices, a new ECMA-340 protocol and the ISO / IEC 18092 standard have been developed (Liébana-Cabanillas et al., 2019). The ISO 14443 standard regulates the organization of communications within the publicly available and unlicensed radio frequencies of the ISM range (Singh, 2020). As with technologies that comply with this standard, in NFC, communication is supported by electromagnetic induction, when two loop antennas are located within the near field of each other. Due to the inductive coupling of the loop antennas of the polling device and the superior device, the passive receiver influences the active polling device. Impedance changes in the receiving device cause amplitude or phase changes in the voltage of the polling device antenna.

NFC defines three main modes of operation, the first of which is passive, similar to intelligent card emulation. A passive NFC device or receiver device behaves like a contactless card of one of the existing standards. The second mode of operation is the transfer of information between peer-to-peer devices. Finally, active mode means reading or writing; reader mode. An active device or initiator, a reader, acts as a scanner for NFC tags containing various information. In fact, active devices can be payment terminals, smartphones supporting this protocol, and passive bank cards or smartphones.

A contactless data transmission channel is half-duplex, which implies transferring information in turn. In addition to the short contact establishment distance, the standard security mechanism is mandatory verification of the holder; however, the concept of contactless payments implies the speed of transactions, which cannot exist in the conditions of mandatory verification. Thus, a limit was set to maintain performance, within which verification is not required. The information is stored in encrypted form in the security element, which contains all the necessary data to perform operations. The access keys to it are held by the manufacturers of the specified element, making it almost impossible for intruders to obtain such data. However, while the use of antivirus software on a smartphone is not required to use this technology, it can significantly reduce the likelihood of unauthorized activity on NFC functionality. The issues of contactless commerce require much more attention on security issues since both personal data and personal funds of the user are at stake.

Commerce

Since NFC is needed to transfer data over short distances, this payment method is especially suitable for relatively small transfers and therefore is often used in the field of micropayments. Many supermarkets offer an NFC payment service. It is enough to attach a smartphone or a credit card with NFC support to the terminal – the connection is established, and the required amount is debited. It is entirely safe and faster than traditional methods (Giese et al., 2019). Given the current global problem of the pandemic, which requires social distance and as little contact between people as possible, this function is indispensable in offline stores.

NFC tags are non-powered NFC chips that draw power from a nearby smartphone or other powered NFC device. They do not need their battery or any other power source. NFC tags can be used as a more convenient replacement for QR codes. NFC payments work similarly to contactless touch payment features such as PayPass MasterCard included with MasterCard credit cards. For example, the state of California has NFC parking meters that allow people to pay for parking by touching an NFC-enabled phone to a parking meter (Giese et al., 2019). In fact, this technology can be applied in all areas where frequent use of a credit card is required to pay for any goods or services, which creates a wide range of applications for this technology.

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Using a smartphone as a credit card with this technology is feasible, first of all, due to the short connection time of 0.1 seconds and also because it is the most secure protocol. In this regard, technologies are already being developed to verify identity. Using NFC, the data can be securely transferred, an identification or business card, and other information about the owner. Security passages are another area where a smartphone with NFC can be used. For example, one can touch the reader to access protected areas. Car manufacturers are even working on NFC-equipped car keys (Olenik et al., 2021). NFC is seen as a replacement for the current QR codes since the technology works much faster and does not require additional actions on the owner’s part.

NFC Tags

NFC tags are an up-and-coming technology capable of adjusting the tag in a certain way or transmitting the necessary information by touching the tag. For example, using a tag on a smartphone, people can set a silent mode or send information about a Wi-fi password to their friends and acquaintances (Singh, 2020). It is possible that in the future, NFC chips can be used in advertising – it will also be possible to transmit information through them, for example, a corresponding entry in a calendar or a link to a website. The tag can be programmed using a smartphone on which particular programs are installed. Later, when the smartphone approaches the tag, the signal received can act as a trigger that launches some program on the smartphone. Interested parties will privately purchase NFC tags and program them for the smartphone using special commands. Similarly, NFC tags can be used for many other micro-automation tasks.

Conclusion

First of all, it makes sense to use NFC for everyday activities, since every day, the user must repeatedly change specific settings, for example, adjust the sound, activate Bluetooth or WLAN, turn GPS on and off. NFC automates changes to settings as one can store the relevant information in so-called NFC tags. Then the smartphone reads the desired tag, and the saved settings take effect. NFC is also excellent for automatically launching applications, also in combination with an NFC tag, on which a command can be saved, for example, to turn off Bluetooth and WLAN in the evening, while simultaneously opening the alarm clock application. NFC can also be used as a business card or greeting card. After all, NFC makes it possible to wirelessly pay via smartphones and access public transport and other institutions. All these capabilities are available due to the main advantages of NFC: security, simplicity, speed, due to the architecture of the technology itself.

References

Giese, D., Liu, K., Sun, M., Syed, T., & Zhang, L. (2019). Security analysis of near-field communication (NFC) payments. arXiv preprint arXiv:1904.10623. Web.

Liébana-Cabanillas, F., Molinillo, S., & Ruiz-Montañez, M. (2019). To use or not to use, that is the question: Analysis of the determining factors for using NFC mobile payment systems in public transportation. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 139, 266-276. Web.

Olenik, S., Lee, H. S., & Güder, F. (2021). The future of near-field communication-based wireless sensing. Nature Reviews Materials, 6(4), 286-288. Web.

Singh, M. M., Adzman, K. A. A. K., & Hassan, R. (2018). Near Field Communication (NFC) technology security vulnerabilities and countermeasures. International Journal of Engineering & Technology, 7(4.31), 298-305. Web.

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Singh, N. K. (2020). Near-field Communication (NFC). Information Technology and Libraries, 39(2). Web.

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