What the Tech?! NFC

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Near Field Communication (NFC), n;

A short-range wireless field that allows for communication between two objects. NFC is used in mobile devices to allow for over-the-air transfer of information, including mobile payments. The newest iPhones are the first Apple products that incorporate NFC to allow for Apple Pay.

NFC emerged out of radio-frequency identification (RFID), which is a one-way communication from one object to another. It first appeared in 2006 in a Nokia flip phone, and has since grown from “beam” technology (like bump, where contacts could be transferred just by holding two NFC-enabled phones near each other) to Google Wallet and Apple Pay. The phone can communicate through an electric field with other devices, like credit card scanners, to transfer information. NFC is also being used by many city commuters who tap-to-enter their buses and subways; right now, these are mainly physical cards with the technology, but with Apple’s new integration of NFC, phones could soon be the ticket (pun intended) to ride.

While Google Wallet and Apple Pay depend on your phone to store information and communicate with scanners, there are physical cards incorporating this technology. Coin, a small credit-card sized device, promised to store eight cards and work like your plastic credit or debit cards. More recently, Plastc launched on , boasting storage for 20 credit, debit and gift cards, an e-ink touchscreen (that allows you to switch between them), an EMV chip (to replace the swipe-and-sign cards), and the ability to function with your default card should the battery die. With the growing acceptance of NFC, the traditional overstuffed leather wallet could go the way of the flip phone.