Buzzword: What is NFC?

Consumer Reports News: June 20, 2011 01:48 PM

Recently Google announced Google Wallet, an app in development that will let you pay for things by tapping or swiping your phone at a a store’s checkout terminal. Eventually, says Google, you’ll also be able to “store your credit cards, offers, loyalty cards and gift cards, but without the bulk. When you tap to pay, your phone will also automatically redeem offers and earn loyalty points for you. Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet.”

The wireless technology that’s making this kind of thing possible is called near-field communication, or NFC. According to the NFC Forum, an industry group, NFC is a “short-range (a few centimeters) wireless connectivity technology that enables simple and safe two-way interactions between electronic devices, allowing consumers to perform contactless transactions, access digital content, and connect electronic devices with a single touch.” In other words, bring two NFC-enabled gadgets close enough, and they can exchange data.

NFC is safer to use for transmission of your private information than, say, Bluetooth, because of its short range. And Google plans to require users to enter a Wallet PIN number before any data is released by the phone, as an added security measure.

NFC has been around for several years and is currently in use in Japan and other countries—but it’s currently built into just two U.S. phones, the Samsung Nexus S and Nexus S 4G. RIM plans to include NFC in its upcoming Bold 9900 and 9930 phones, however, and others are on the way. Analysts such as iSuppli predict a steep rise in NFC growth over the next several years.

NFC Forum
Near Field Communications Gets Closer for CEBP, Unified Communications Strategies
Engadget Primed: What is NFC, and why do we care?, Engadget
Coming soon: make your phone your wallet, The Official Google Blog
RIM unveils BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 NFC phones, Near Field Communications World
How secure is your wallet in Google's hands? (FAQ), CNet

Carol Mangis

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