What Are NFC Readers?

What Are NFC Readers?

NFC Readers

What Are NFC Readers?

NFC Readers (Near Field Communication) are a powerful technology that allow two devices to communicate when they’re within proximity of each other. This allows mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay to be made as well as contactless transit cards to work.

NFC readers are a great way to reduce the time it takes your customers to make a transaction. They’re also a great tool for increasing security.

Contactless Payments

In NFC’s reader/writer mode, NFC-enabled cards or mobile devices connect instantly for data exchange. This enables payment, identification, access control, ticketing and other applications that require near-field communication.

To complete a contactless transaction, customers simply tap their card or device against an NFC reader. NFC technology transmits encrypted payment data to the POS terminal, which then generates a cryptographic code that validates and processes the transaction. This process can be up to 10 times faster than a traditional chip, swipe and PIN transaction.

Alternatively, customers can make NFC mobile payments using their digital wallets—like Apple Pay and Google Pay—which they’ve loaded with their card or bank account information. They’re then prompted to unlock their smartphone or authenticate themselves in the digital wallet with face scan or biometrics. Once verified, they can place their phone or card against the NFC reader at checkout and wait for a beep or signal that the purchase is completed.

Consumers who prefer contactless transactions say they enjoy the convenience of tapping or hovering their devices against a reader. They also like that they can avoid touching cash, credit cards or payment terminals, which are surfaces that the coronavirus may live on. And, during the pandemic, contactless payments can help reduce sanitization-related risks by eliminating the need to hand someone their card or cash.

Access Control

NFC Readers are often used in Access Control, to allow people into buildings or facilities without the need for a NFC Readers keycard or other credentials. In these applications, the NFC reader communicates with a central system that manages permissions and logs access events. These systems can also be integrated into existing security systems, making them more effective and efficient.

The NFC reader can communicate directly with the central management system via TCP/IP, removing the need for a separate control panel, wall box and power supply reducing component count and bespoke cabling requirements. It can also be remotely updated with new firmware and support multiple smart card formats, avoiding single supplier dependence.

When a user places their smartphone or NFC-enabled device in range of the reader, a communication channel is established and data transactions take place. The information encoded on the tag is verified by the NFC reader, and a decision is made to grant or deny access.

NFC technology enables users to access facilities with their mobile devices rather than a traditional keycard, increasing convenience and usability. This can reduce the need to replace lost cards and cut administration costs associated with distributing and updating cards. Furthermore, users tend to be more careful with their phones than their access cards, so are less likely to lose them or forget to bring them along.


The RFID tag itself is a microchip (an integrated circuit, or IC) with a small antenna. The tag also contains a battery or other power source. Whether the chip is active, passive, or semi-passive, determines how it uses radio waves to communicate with the reader. The IC in the tag has a logic unit and memory to store information. It can also monitor conditions such as moisture and fill levels in bottles, containers or other packaging.

When a NFC reader comes within range of the tag, it energizes the IC to transmit data. The tag then responds to the data request – like a mobile phone responding to a WiFi signal. The response is based on the use case, and may be something as simple as opening a URL or more complex such as communicating with a server for authentication.

NFC tags can work without WiFi, 4G or LTE connectivity. This makes them a great option for POS payments and access control, as well as digital marketing and other customer-facing applications. They’re also a good choice for healthcare, as they can help make sure that health care workers are actually washing their hands, and not just chatting with colleagues in the restroom. This is especially important because health care facilities are prone to infections and outbreaks. NFC is also ideal for the home, as smart appliances can use it to let you know when it’s time to clean the washing machine.


NFC Readers use a specific frequency to send encrypted data between the chip on your phone and the reader. Whenever you bring the NFC-enabled device close to the reader (usually within a few centimeters) the reader energizes the chip to communicate with it. If you’re making a payment, the reader verifies your credentials to complete the transaction. This process happens in a fraction of the time it takes for magstripe or chip transactions and is leagues faster than paying with cash.

NFC readers are typically designed to limit the signal distance to a couple of inches, preventing eavesdropping. However, hackers are always developing new ways to gain unauthorized access NFC Readers so it’s important for business owners to keep their guard up. Fortunately, most NFC readers use encryption systems to protect data transfer.

NFC Readers can also be used in conjunction with other technologies to enhance security. For instance, when combined with RFID capabilities, NFC can be used for proximity-based locking of doors and access control to secure areas within a building or complex. NFC Readers can also be used with a mobile application to emulate a digital ID card, enabling users to bypass the line at airports and other secure locations by scanning their phones instead.