Technological Diffusion of Near Field Communication (NFC)

Technological Diffusion of Near Field Communication (NFC)

Tom Page (Loughborough Design School, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJTD.2016070105
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Abstract

Near Field Communication (NFC) is increasingly being employed in modern consumer devices and until now it has been used for mobile payments. However, on further investigation there are other areas where NFC has a key role. Recent developments in Medical and ticketing based NFC applications show promise for being the so called “Catalyst” for NFC's integration. The objective of this research was to determine if mobile payments will be the catalyst for a more widespread integration of NFC into society and how NFC technology will impact on everyday life. Research Methods comprised questionnaire and interviews to gain further insight into the current standing of NFC. The findings indicated that NFC will not mature enough to be classified as viral by 2016, especially with contactless payments as no decisions seem to have been made for any progression. It is that most likely outcome that NFC will mature enough at the very latest in 2018, with further development in the years to come for unique serialisation and the internet of things. Managerial implications for this research extend to the medical sector where large gains can be made in better patient care and remote diagnostics leading to a more efficient service.
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Introduction

This research examines the present uses of NFC technology and how its application is likely to develop in the future. It has been suggested that NFC will increasingly be used for mobile payments and this will be the catalyst for its diffusion. This paper sought to identify the drivers behind NFC’s growth. This paper attempts to answer the following questions.

  • How does NFC compare to other similar technologies?

  • What can NFC enable currently and what may it offer in the future?

  • What factors will determine NFC’s rate of diffusion?

  • Is the expectation correct that contactless payments will form the catalyst for NFC integration?

Literature Review

NFC is a subset of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) that works at close range to form a connection between two devices almost instantly. This technology first appeared in 2006 (The NFC Times, 2011) after significant work from the NFC forum. The technology was first developed to enable secure mobile payments and ticketing applications. It works by magnetic induction over a range of 10cm. This is shorter than typical RFID interactions, lending itself to “touch and go” type interactions. Figure 1 shows examples of NFC tags. These include mainly stickers, a key ring and a pen but there are many more applications which will be shown through this paper. These can be attached to everyday items, enabling product interactions.

Figure 1.

Example of NFC “tagged” items. (Page 2013)

NFC is a way to form connections wirelessly between two devices and whilst there are many other ways to do this, the three technologies closest linked with the area NFC is operating in are outlined and are compared in terms of their main features in the following sections. Bluetooth is a standard wireless connection type that is used commonly to link mobile devices to other devices such as speakers, wireless headphones and is also used in computers for wireless keyboards and mice. The system is very secure, usually needing a pin code, meaning that the time to make a connection is longer. Transfer speed is high compared to NFC at 721Kbps (Kumar, 2010) (Noor, 2009) and at a range of thirty metres maximum it is a very powerful tool.

QR codes work on a similar process to barcodes, and require an optical or infrared scanner to obtain the information. They are inexpensive and easy to produce and can be printed rather than applied before and after printing. However, scanning can be difficult and they rarely contain enough information to be useful on their own therefore, a URL usually is stored. This is the main competition to NFC for the advertising markets. An example is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2.

Example of QR code on a product (Page 2013)

It needs to be noted that NFC differs greatly to a typical RFID, especially in terms of range. A RFID tag can communicate at a maximum range of three meters. It can however, only allow one way transfer of data. There has been nearly twenty years of development on RFID. However, it has still not become cheap enough to enable unique serialisation. RFID is mainly used in goods tracking, shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3.

Example of RFID tagged label (Page, 2013)

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