The Near Field Communication Information Technology Essay

Near Field Communication is a standards-based, short range wireless connectivity technology that enables simple and safe two-way interactions between electronic devices. It allows consumers to perform contactless transactions, access digital content and connect electronic devices with a single touch.

NFC devices are interoperable as they are based on pre-existing contactless payment standards used on a daily basis by millions of people and devices worldwide.

Near Field communication unites various standards and proprietary technologies found in the millions of standalone contactless cards. Contactless technology lets users pay for transactions by simply holding cards close to, rather than swiping them through a reader.

Users can share business cards, make transactions, access information from smart posters or provide credentials for access control systems with a simple touch.

NFC can be compatible with existing contactless card infrastructure and enables a consumer to utilize one device across different systems.

The NFC technology also allows for the development of devices including mobile phones that can be used like contactless cards.

NFC could be used in many ways including merchandise and service payments, event ticketing and facilitaty and computer access control. The technology would also work well for embedding information about consumer products, accessible by customers’ NFC enabled mobile devices in packaging.[1]

2. Introduction

2.1 Coles Retail Sector

At Coles to make payments at the checkouts as easy as possible we gladly accept:


Credit cards


Coles Group Card

Coles and Myer gift cards

Selected shopping centre vouchers

Traveller’s and personal cheques

Now we can add one more method of payment using NFC to the above list. NFC is an evolution of the simple RFID technology employed in contactless payment systems such as MasterCard PayPass and Visa PayWave.

2.2 NFC in Retail industry

Near Field communication can combine contactless smart card technology with the convenience of mobile devices. The integration of NFC hardware into a mobile phone enables it to imitate contactless smart cards as well as to read from and write onto such cards. The ability to act as a smart card makes it possible for NFC compatible phones to be used as a replacement for physical contactless cards. There are many applications for NFC in general of which only few can be deployable for the use in Coles stores: Payment, loyalty applications, rebate coupons, product information and download of information.

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These applications can be divided into two groups: ones that support the customers while they are on the store floor and ones that could become part of the check-out process.

The download of information and the procurement of product information constitute two different applications that support customers on the store floor. While the download of information generally describes the access of data such as rebate coupons and links to web based content triggered by reading an NFC tag embedded in a smart poster, the procurement of product information describes accessing data after tapping such a tag embedded in a product packaging or attached to the shelf holding the product. Both applications could be used to help customers to find out more about the product that we have to offer and to reduce their need for assistance by store personnel. Store personnel could also use these solutions in order to procure information on products to better serve our customers.

The implementation of NFC based payment, loyalty applications and coupons on the other hand could give us a means to accelerate parts of the check-out process. NFC devices could hold the customers payment cards, loyalty cards and rebate coupons at the same time. Holding one NFC device up to a contactless reader could replace having to get two plastic cards and several coupons out of a wallet or purse. [2]

These NFC applications would therefore change the customer shopping process.

3. Recommendations

NFC is primarily aimed at usage in mobile phones.

3.1 Technology

The technology is an extension of the ISO/IEC 14443 proximity-card standard that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. An NFC device can communicate with both existing ISO/IEC 14443 smartcards and readers, as well as with other NFC devices and is thereby compatible with existing contactless infrastructure already in use for payment methods.

3.2 Configuration

NFC operates on the 13.56MHz frequency with data transfers of up to 424 kilobits per second and is triggered when two NFC compatible devices are brought within 4 centimetres. NFC is both a “read” and “write” technology. NFC devices are unique in that they can change their mode of operation to be in reader/writer, peer-to-peer or card emulation mode. The different operating modes are based on the ISO/IEC 18092 NFC IP-1 and ISO/IEC14443 contactless smart card standards.

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The above picture shows the different components of the technical architecture of NFC.

Three communication modes are defined by NFC forum as illustrated above:

Peer-to-Peer mode is defined for device to device link level communication.

Read/Write mode allows for the transmission of NFC forum defined messages.

Card Emulation mode allows the NFC-device behave as a standard smartcard. [3]

Software, firmware and middleware of a NFC-device are composed of many:

Protocols from RF side to high level protocols enabling interoperability

Peer-to-peer communication

Frameworks such as Java Card operating system for card emulation and applications development as well as JVM offering JSR257 to application developers

Native software layers offering some links to other technologies for simple configuration. [4]

4. Discussion

4.1 Security Issues

The NFC interface is used to transfer some valuable information. NFC alone does not ensure secure communications even though the communication range of NFC is limited to a few centimetres. NFC offers no protection against eavesdropping and is also vulnerable to data modifications.

Eavesdropping: The RF signal for the wireless data transfer can be picked up with antennas. The distance from which an attacker is able to eavesdrop the RF signal depends on numerous parameters, but is typically a small number of metres. Also, eavesdropping is extremely affected by the communication mode. A passive device which does not generate its own RF field is much harder to eavesdrop than an active device.

Data modification: Data destruction is relatively easy to realize. One possibility to perturb the signal is the usage of an RFID jammer. There is no way to prevent such an attack but if the NFC devices check the RF field while they are communicating it is possible to detect it. In order to modify the transmitted data an intruder has to deal with the single bits of the RF signal. The feasibility of this attack is amongst others subject to the strength of the amplitude modulation. If data is transferred with the modified miller coding and a modulation of 100%, only certain bits can be modified. Transmitting Manchester encoded data with a modulation ratio of 10% permits a modification attack on all bits.

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Relay attack: For this attack the adversary has to forward the request of the reader to the victim and relay back its answer to the reader in real time, in order to carry out a tsk pretending to be the owner of the victim’s smart card.

Secure channel for NFC: Establishing a secure channel between two NFC devices is the best approach to protect against eavesdropping and any kind of data modification attack. [5]

4.2 Economics and Risk Assessment

The implementation of NFC based contactless payment under current card fee models significantly increases the payment costs for retailers. This is due to the transfer of payment transactions and revenue from low cost settlement with cash to more costly card payments. However there are various means to recuperate a share of the additional costs. Firstly, the implementation of NFC based payment could cause a growth in sales due to the elevated transaction convenience and the fact that the customers’ expenditure is not limited by the amount of cash they carry. Secondly, a reduction in card fees for all transactions or a discount restricted to small amount payments could reduce or neutralize the payment cost increase as well.

Additional costs that cannot be compensated by a growth in sales, lower fees or operating cost savings have to be considered as the retailer’s price for the implementation of NFC based contactless payment. [6]

5. Conclusion

Currently the most widely used consumer facing applications of NFC are “wave to pay” credit cards, transit system passes or ticketing and secure building entry. In some cases passports or other ideas use embedded tags for additional security. Industrial apllcations include inventory management and tracking.

A remarkably diverse and ever expanding

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