NFC is mainly associated with payments, but it also offers many other possibilities. Find out what NFC is in your phone, how it works and what it can do for you. You will also learn how to pay with an NFC smartphone and whether it is safe to do so.

NFC technology - what is it?

NFC is an acronym for near-field communication, which is based on electromagnetic induction. NFC technology uses radio waves to wirelessly exchange data over a distance of up to 20 centimeters. It operates at 13.56 MHz and has a bandwidth of up to 848 kilobits per second (kbps).

NFC communication is an extension of and compatible with the ISO/IEC 14443 (high frequency RFID) standard used in payment cards and other contactless cards. It is mainly used in cell phones and smart watches. NFC technology is used especially for contactless payments with a smartphone or smartwatch, but it also has other applications when it is useful to exchange relatively small amounts of data quickly and conveniently. Visit

How does NFC work in phones and other devices?

NFC-enabled devices can send and receive data at the same time, enabling fast, two-way communication. Unlike Bluetooth technology, however, NFC does not require pairing of equipment. The connection will be established automatically when the function is activated and the devices are close enough to each other.

In addition, NFC works not only in active mode, but also in passive mode. This allows communication with so-called NFC tags, which are usually stickers with a chip. The active device - for example a phone - then acts as a reader of NFC tags, which means it downloads the data stored on them, and thanks to specialized applications it can also program them. The NFC tag does not require its own power supply, because it only modulates the electromagnetic field generated by the smartphone or other equipment.

How do I add NFC to my phone?

Most new smartphones offer NFC technology, including even some budget models under £1,000. However, you can not add NFC to a phone that does not have such a module. To support NFC and mobile payments you also need a SIM card that supports this standard.
You also need to enable the function in the settings of the smartphone. You'll usually do this in the notification bar that slides down from the top. If you don't find NFC there, look in tabs like Connectivity/Connections/Sharing or use the "search settings" function and type in "NFC".

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NFC and phone payments - how to pay with NFC?

You can pay with NFC on any modern terminal that supports contactless payments and the process is very simple. All you need to do is bring an unlocked NFC-enabled phone or watch instead of a payment card. You don't even need to have an internet connection.

Before that, however, you need to set up your device with NFC and payments. In the first step, you download a mobile app to your smartphone, such as Google Pay or Apple Pay, for example, or apps from banks that support NFC. Then you add a payment card in it, and if there is more than one, you select which one will be the default one. To pay with another added card, you need to enable the app and select the card in question.

Is NFC and payments a safe combination?

Payments with a smartphone or watch are even safer than those with a contactless card. The NFC range on your phone is a maximum of 20 cm, which virtually eliminates the risk of someone equipped with the right equipment intercepting your card data during the transaction.

In addition, the device must be unlocked to pay with it, and in modern smartphones you can secure access not only with a code or a pattern, but also with a fingerprint or a face scan. As with card payments, if the amount is more than PLN 50 or PLN 100, you also need to enter a PIN at the terminal.

NFC tag reader module in a phone - what else does it give?

  • faster and more convenient transfer of small amounts of data (e.g. links, business cards, contacts or small text files) than with Bluetooth, which also consumes more power.
  • Pair compatible devices (such as headphones or speakers) with your phone instantly. Data transfer then takes place via Bluetooth.
  • displaying information on your smartphone from NFC tags that are present in some tourist attractions or museums alongside or instead of QR codes.
  • authentication for opening doors or gates without the need for a special card.

The NFC tag reader on the phone is also increasingly used in smart home solutions.

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