NFC is a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a distance of 4cm or less to initiate a connection partly because people do not trust making secure transactions at the longer distances typical with Bluetooth, WiFi and other short range radio protocols. The most popular mobile phone and tablet operating system is heavily committed to NFC.
Mobile phones continue to be by far the most important potential and actual focus of NFC; the technology is particularly suitable for them. The SIM card in your mobile phone is a smart card identifying your account to the network. On NFC phones, the SIM is being extended to act as the Secure Element that can hold other apps such as payment cards. For example, NFC allows you to share small packets of data between an NFC tag and an Android-powered device, or between two Android-powered devices. Most contactless point-of-sale payment systems use an NFC-compatible contactless interface and many of the world's transportation access systems are NFC compatible so considerable infrastructure is already in place for use by NFC-enabled devices. Although progress with transport systems and payments is slow.
Sales of NFC enabled phones vs all mobile phones millions 2013-2015* with % penetration
*For the full forecast data please purchase this report
Many trials of other potential uses of NFC continue to be created but they tend to be a poor indication of what happens at rollout. To say contactless cards are NFC is playing with words: they predate NFC and would succeed if NFC had never been invented.
This report examines the existing and future applications of NFC technology and the major players competing in the market, along with ten year market forecasts. It covers issues such as standardization, security and licensing, plus global progress split by country and key interviews from 2013.