NFC on Android: what is it for and how to use it?

NFC (Near Field Communication) is a technology that has been integrated into many Android smartphones. It facilitates the exchange of files, contacts, photos and videos. It is also the technology that allows for contactless payment or mobile transportation toggles. In this file we will show you what it does and how to use it.

NFC is still an underused technology and many users prefer to disable this feature for security. However, in detail, the possibilities offered by this technology have everything to encourage you to learn how to use it better and limit the risks. We will explain everything to you.

What is NFC and what is it for?

NFC is a wireless transmission technology that works over a short distance, enabling the exchange of information between two smartphones or compatible devices. The idea is that in some cases it is desirable to be able to initiate a connection or data transfer with relatively low security, but within a very short interval. While Wi-Fi or Bluetooth range counts as a few meters, when it comes to NFC it’s more likely to count on a few centimeters.

It is also often necessary to position the sensor well so that the transmitter and receiver can interact. Thus, NFC can make it possible to pair with certain Bluetooth devices, simplifying the transfer of contacts, photos, app data and many other things simply by approaching the smartphone without further action by the user. It is very convenient to use. The other big exit is of course contactless payment.

The first smartphone to embed this technology was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (2011). Since then, many smartphones have adopted this feature. Some have the N logo (as pictured in this article) and even the battery of older models. It’s available on all iPhones since iPhone 7 (but its use is more limited in the Apple ecosystem) On Android, if you don’t know, the best way to make sure you have it is to check the smartphone’s parameters directly. :

  • see you later Settings
  • press on More from the menu Wireless and network
  • choose NFC (if your smartphone is equipped with it)

How to share data and contacts via NFC

One of the advantages of NFC is simplified data exchange between two terminals. Sharing is supported by: androidBeam, this will automatically detect the other terminal we want to communicate with. So you don’t have to bother with pairing as in the case of Bluetooth.

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nfc android ray

To get started, you have to make sure that NFC and Android Beam are enabled. For him:

  • enter inside Settings > More > NFC and enable NFC
  • Do not touch Android Beam and enable

To initiate data sharing:

  • On your smartphone, open the content to share
  • Bring the back of the receiver’s smartphone closer to the back of your smartphone (in general, the top of the two smartphones should be paired)
  • press on Tap to share

It is then possible to share multimedia files as well as any content displayed on the screen: web page, YouTube video, contacts, route, etc. To use it is to embrace it!

How to make contactless payment with NFC?

NFC can turn your smartphone into a payment tool. Android smartphones offer Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Paylib, in addition to Apple Pay on iPhones, as well as contactless payment offered by some registrars such as Orange Bank.

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay is available in France for customers of the following banks and organizations:

  • apex
  • BCP Bank
  • Bank of Savoy
  • People’s Bank
  • Exchange Bank
  • savings bank
  • Lydia
  • Max.
  • Ticket Restaurant – Edenred

Google Pay

Google Pay has also recently been made available to several banks in France:

  • blessing
  • Exchange Bank
  • Lydia
  • N26
  • revolution
  • Ticket Restaurant – Edenred

PayPal

Paylib is offered by the following banks:

  • agricultural loan
  • BNP Paribas
  • postal bank
  • Secretary General
  • Hello Bank
  • Exchange Bank
  • Credit Mutuel Arkea
  • People’s Bank
  • Savings Bank
  • mutual credit
  • CIC

Contact your bank to learn how to activate Paylib on your smartphone.

orange bank

You can reach Orange Bank, another player that offers contactless payments in France, by clicking here.

Most debit cards are equipped with an NFC chip that allows contactless payment. Currently, the ceiling is set at 30 euros for security reasons. It has been increased since before October 2017 the maximum amount was 20 Euros.

Also note that NFC allows us to use our smartphones as tickets. This is the case, for example, in Toulouse and Nice. In Paris, the Navigo pass has recently become available via NFC.

How to use NFC tags?

Besides mobile payment, transportation and data sharing, NFC to enable or disable a feature right on a smartphone or other device. For example, you want to disable Wi-Fi every time you enter your car, that’s fine, leave an NFC tag in your cabin and every time the back of your smartphone rubs against it, this will disable the Wi-Fi.

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nfc tags

This is just one example among others, it can be used to enable airplane mode, Bluetooth or, conversely, disable them. The possibilities are endless, especially on Android.

It’s still rare for now, but NFC tags can also be placed on business cards, movie tickets, medications, and much more. Manufacturers don’t seem to be lacking in ideas to democratize wireless technology.

NFC: What are the real security risks?

Since the feature is available, it is usually permanently disabled by users. Some fear that without your knowledge, hackers will manage to take advantage of the system to compromise the device, leak data or make payments… True or false?

Very limited risks when it comes to smartphone

In fact, NFC is pretty secure by design: you have to be extremely close to the smartphone (and often touch it with the other device) to initiate the data transmission. And the operating system always asks the user for confirmation to do any action initiated by NFC.

In other words, if someone tries to take advantage of NFC, they must touch your smartphone in a very specific way, as the sensor is often capricious. Incorrect positioning can actually prevent data from being transferred via NFC.

However, a risk may arise from “wild” NFC tags that will be maliciously created by hackers. However, to protect yourself, it is enough to pay attention to what is displayed on the smartphone when the sensor detects the NFC tag in question.

Status of bank cards with NFC

Most banks now offer their customers bank cards with NFC chips for contactless payment. Theoretically, a hacker could get a self-made device into your wallet and try to steal money from you. This is more possible than with a smartphone, because in the case of contactless payment the card does not require confirmation.

However, there are two limitations: first, the 30 euros per day limit, which limits the risk of overdoing yourself. The security of the cards is also high and does not put such hacks within the reach of everyone. Finally, keep in mind that there are special wallets that block NFC signals that can pass through to be as quiet as possible.

Are you using NFC?

technology has many advantages, has been in existence for several years now, and its use is spreading at a dizzying pace. In the coming years, we expect an already rapidly growing contactless payment boom. And to the proliferation of transport authorities offering tickets on smartphones. Services are coming gradually, banks and builders are adapting to new needs, merchants and utilities are better and better equipped.

And do you use NFC in your daily life? Do you find it useful? Or do you consider it more of a gimmick option? Share your views in the comments!