Why in News:
- Google Pay has recently launched a new feature in India, ‘Tap to pay for UPI’. The feature makes use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.
- The functionality will allow users with NFC-enabled Android smartphones and UPI accounts linked to Google Pay to carry out transactions just by tapping their phones on point-of-sale (POS) terminals.. Till now, Tap to Pay was only available for cards.
What is NFC?
- NFC is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that allows NFC-enabled devices to communicate with each other and transfer information quickly and easily with a single touch — whether to pay bills, exchange business cards, download coupons, or share a document.
- NFC transmits data through electromagnetic radio fields, to enable communication between two devices.
- Both devices must contain NFC chips, as transactions take place within a very short distance.
- NFC-enabled devices must be either physically touching or within a few centimetres from each other for data transfer to occur.
- The process is much faster compared to scanning a QR code or entering the UPI-linked mobile number which has been the conventional way till now.
What are the other applications of NFC technology?
- It is used in contactless banking cards to perform money transactions or to generate contact-less tickets for public transport. Contactless cards and readers use NFC in several applications from securing networks and buildings to monitoring inventory and sales, preventing auto theft, keeping tabs on library books, and running unmanned toll booths.
- NFC is behind the cards that we wave over card readers in subway turnstiles and on buses to check tickets. It is present in speakers, household appliances, and other electronic devices that we monitor and control through our smartphones.
- With just a touch, NFC can also set up WiFi and Bluetooth devices in our homes.
- It also has an application in healthcare, to monitor patient stats through NFC-enabled wristbands.
- NFC is used in wireless charging too.
- NFC technology is designed for an operation between devices within a few centimetres from each other. This makes it difficult for attackers to record the communication between the devices compared to other wireless technologies which have a working distance of several metres.
- The security level of the NFC communication is by default higher compared to other wireless communication protocols.
- Peer to Peer communication which is a mechanism to cipher all exchanged data to avoid external interpretation is possible.
Other wireless tech
- The IrDa technology is a short range (a few metres) connection based on the exchange of data over infrared light where the two communication devices must be positioned within a line of sight. Today, this technology is mainly used for remote control devices.
- For larger data communication with computer devices this technology was replaced by Bluetooth or WiFi connections.