Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless connectivity technology that allows short-range radio communication between devices. Included in a small chip inside the device, NFC allows for mobile money transactions, data exchange, location tagging, and wireless connections between two devices in very close proximity to one other, usually just a couple of centimeters apart.
Owing to the short-range nature of NFC, transfers are often completed by "tapping" devices either to another NFC-enabled device or a payment system.
Though the technology has been around for about seven years, NFC only seems to now be coming into its own, with a veritable explosion of NFC-powered devices and applications emerging over the course of the last couple of years alone. Indeed, according to a recent Juniper research report, by 2014, one in five smartphones will have NFC in them.
NFC services are set to proliferate rapidly over the next three years, with Juniper predicting almost 300 million NFC capable smartphones by the end of next year, more than half of which will be in North America, with Western Europe following closely behind.
The sudden growth spurt in the technology has much to do with its acceptance and adoption by many global mobile network operators, as well as giants like Google, RIM, Nokia, Samsung, and more.
With more and more handset vendors integrating NFC chipsets, NFC payments, mobile coupons, and smart posters are also slowly becoming more common amongst smartphone users in Western Europe, North America, and other developed regions.