An overview of cases where NFC chips will simplify your work

13 Typical Examples of How to Use NFC technology

22. November 2021
NFC technology has been on the market for several decades and does not differ much from other RFID technologies. The principle of operation is very similar, there is a small contactless chip with an antenna that can receive a signal from the reader, and communicate some information. 

NFC technology has gained even greater visibility and usability in recent years, as it is now being incorporated into smartphones by probably all phone manufacturers. These phones can communicate securely with POS terminals during banking transactions, they can encode NFC chips, read the NFC tags, and communicate with other NFC phones too.
NFC is proximity-based technology, which mean that it works usually just a couple of centimeters from a reader or you have to actually tap on the NFC tags. 

NFC chips can be embedded into various products to identify and authenticate them. People can use NFC transponders to unlock doors, record presence at work, etc. NFC can launch websites, open video presentations, and in recent years the technology is increasingly present in mobile payment solutions.

Since the possibilities of use are practically unlimited, we have summarized the 13 typical examples of the use of NFC technology. 

There are several types of NFC chips. They are divided into five types, and within each group, the chips differ in parameters such as memory size, chip ID code length, and mode of operation. We have the most experience with Type 2 NFC chips, which are affordable chips for use in mass applications, Type 4 NFC chips that were designed for secure transactions, and Type 5 NFC chips, designed for product management.

The use of a certain type of chip is not unambiguously determined and several factors, such as the price of the chip, the possibilities of reading the chips, the level of security, etc., must be taken into account in order to select the appropriate type.

Below are some examples where NFC chips are most commonly used.

1.    NFC Tags for product identification during manufacturing

NFC tags can be embedded into products that are made from non-metallic materials, they are big enough to carry the NFC tag, and they cost much more than a tag. The most common tag size is round tag with a diameter of 25 mm and thickness of 1 mm.
Such tags operate at a proximity range of up to 5 cm. There are smaller NFC tags as well, but the reading distance gets smaller, and to read the smallest tags you need special equipment.

The NFC chip contains a unique preprogrammed ID number which can be used as Product ID Number, and a memory that allows us to store some product information like:

“ID: FRE123456789DE; Prod_Date:12.3.2021; Lot_No.:SI234543FT988G; Key_Parameters:15-A3-45-23-FE-67-54; Service_Date:12.9.2021; Status: OK” 

When writing custom data to an NFC chip, you may use a custom key and the content will be hidden from non-authorized users. 

From our experience the most widespread NFC chip is the NTAG213, but each application has it own specifics and you have to select the chip that suits you the most.

2.    NFC stickers for tracking product maintenance

Just as NFC chips serve us to identify products during manufacturing, they also serve us during maintenance. With the NFC stickers, you can distinguish seemingly identical products, and record the history of repairs and other information which can later be made available to other service technicians. 

If the product is made from metal or it has a metallic housing, you have to use a special NFC sticker with on-metal protection

3.    Embedded NFC chips for proof of ownership

NFC chips can be used for proof of ownership of sporting equipment and similar items. An embedded chip can store ownership data like:

 “This windsurfing board belongs to John Doe, 2803 Pike Street, San Diego, California, 92123, USA. If found, please call +1 858-597-5073.”

The chip ID is always easily readable with many NFC applications, and is visible to the public. The ID is usually used as an identifier which connects the product to the other information inside the manufacturer database.  

When selecting the proper type of chip, you have to be aware that different types of NFC chips have a different data retentions time. Some chips will store information for 10 years, others for 25 years, and some for even 50 years.

4.    NFC chips for product authentication and Anti-Counterfeiting solutions

The NFC technology can be used for product authentication and Anti-Counterfeiting solutions. Depending on a degree of required security you may choose the appropriate NFC tag Type. For most expensive items, you should consider using Type 4 NFC chips like the MIFARE DESFire® chips. There are some special NFC labels that seal the product and if a label is removed, the chip stops working.   

5.    NFC key cards or key fobs for user identification

NFC technology is very often used to identify users in many applications. The handiest NFC transponders are key fobs, cards, and wristbands

The identification is based on the use of a pre-programmed chip ID code, which can even be read with inexpensive desktop readers that are connected to a PC. Some NFC readers work as keyboard emulators and display a chip ID code on the screen without the need of any software, other NFC readers/encoders offer much more secure authentication, but they need to be integrated into a software application. 

6.    NFC technology for Access Control

NFC technology can be used as a key to open the doors at home or at work, it can be used as ticket to public transport systems, concerts, and museums, and can be used for a check in at the hotel, to open the hotel room, and an also open fitness and wellness without reception.

You can use the NFC technology in two ways. You can use a regular NFC key tag and enroll it to your access control system, or you can use a special access control system which has a reader that dynamically communicates with the NFC phone.

When you enroll the NFC key tag to an access control system, you save the chip ID into the access control and it uses the ID when authenticating the user.

Unfortunately (or luckily), you cannot use the NFC phone to emulate the chip ID number. Many users wish to be able to emulate the chip ID with a mobile and use it instead of a bunch of different key cards but this would this would break the security and simplify the work of thieves.

Access control systems that are designed for unlocking doors with NFC smartphones use dynamic communications which authenticate the user securely and such a key cannot be stolen. 
7.    NFC Digital business cards

NFC digital business card contain an NFC chip with a stored business card information. When you scan such a card, you can quickly transfer the contact information into your address book. 

NFC business cards can be made of plastic (as a credit card) or they can be made as the usual paper business cards but contain a thin NFC chip. 

Another very handy way to carry your NFC business card is in the form of a key fob which can be attached to your keys. 

The most widespread NFC chip, the NTAG213 chip has the capability to store just around 130 characters, although this is not enough to store business card information. So, the most common chips for NFC business cards are the NTAG215 and NTAG216.

8.    NFC Stickers for launching a website

The easiest way to direct someone to a specific website is with the use of an NFC sticker. This can be especially useful if you like to open a long website address.  When scanned, the programmed NFC sticker will open the website on the user’s mobile phone. 

For programming your NFC tags, check a free app NFC tools.
Just select ‘Write – Add a record’ and you will see multiple useful options.

Here are some useful tips for use: 

•    With an NFC sticker, at a bus stop you can provide the information about the bus arrival.

•    The NFC sticker on a restaurant table can open a digital restaurant Menu and allow the user a safer order selection than menus in print.

•    The price tag with an NFC sticker in retail stores could open special offers and additional information about the offered product.

•    NFC touch points in the museum could open additional information about the shown exhibit.

You can embed NFC stickers inside various printed material like brochures, coupons, and posters, and you will make them interactive.

9.    NFC smart posters

Everyone can make smart posters. Just paste some NFC stickers behind the printed poster and when a user will tap the certain area the poster will trigger the programmed action. 

On the printed side, mark the areas with some call-to action text like “Tap here for video presentation,” “Scan here for Ordering the product,” “Scan a tag for technical details,” etc., and the user will know what to do with it. 

For this application, we recommend using the NFC stickers with the bigger antennas as users will scan them easier and faster.

With such an interactive poster you can:

-    guide the customer to your YouTube or other video presentations,
-    trigger a navigation to your address,
-    open a URL link with additional promotional content
-    display the product data as text on client mobile phone (product ID, date of purchase, warranty, etc.)
-    open a mobile application or a download link to Google Play or another App Store
-    automatically dial a phone number or open a pre-written SMS
-    report the location (Latitude and Longitude)
-    open a Street View at certain coordinates
-    add your contact details to your client’s phone
-    add a Social Network link
-    search for product with a specific platform (Amazon, AOL, Baidu, eBay, Google, IMDb, Wikipedia, YouTube, etc.)
-    add a Bitcoin address for donations or other payments
-    or just use a chip ID to trigger some customized actions.

These are standard NFC features and to trigger them is enough of a simple scan without using any special NFC application. 
Although great progress has been made in recent years in terms of unifying the operation of NFC technology on different platforms (Android, iOS, etc.), there are still cases where certain functionalities do not work on all platforms.

10.    NFC for configuring a Wi-Fi network or a Bluetooth connection

NFC provides a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection between two devices through a simple tap without the need to enter PIN codes or other credentials. 

To provide a Wi-Fi connection to your guest, simply write the configuration setting to the NFC chip and a guest will be able to connect to your internet with a simple scan.

The configuration can be added to an NFC sticker with a free app NFC tools. Just select Add a record – Wi-Fi network, type your configuration settings, and write them on a tag or a sticker. 

With such a simple tool, you will save the time you would otherwise spend passing on the password to guests and also the occasional change of password will be simplified.

11.    NFC chips for micro payments and secure transactions

NFC technology allows you to pay securely with your smartphone or a smartwatch with a simple tap. 

To be able to use your mobile phone for payments you need and payment app – usually provided by banks or from other payment system providers such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc.

You cannot buy a regular NFC sticker, paste it on your old mobile phone, and use it as an NFC smartphone for payments.  

12.    NFC chips for charging IoT devices

There are special NFC chips which can charge small devices like smartwatches, fitness trackers, Bluetooth headsets, etc.  A single antenna in such device is used for power transfer and NFC communication and allows small device designs. 

This NFC functionality is only applicable to developers of such devices and not for end users.

13.    NFC Stickers for personal use

You can use NFC technology to simplify some routine tasks or help impaired persons.

Beside the universal functions like “Call my Dad,” send a pre-written SMS, or start a navigation to Home, you can trigger special tasks which work only with specific NFC task apps. 
Check your app store, there are a lot of free NFC task apps and more complex paid ones, as well.

The NFC tasks are linked to the chip ID and they can:
-    Enable/Disable my Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, open VPN connection,
-    Play media, start microphone recording,
-    Show an image, set brightness
-    Launch an app . . .
-    Launch vocal command . . .
-    Dial a number, compose an SMS, enable speaker . . . 
-    Tasks to manipulate files and directories
-    Tasks like compose and email, compose a tweet, enable flashlight, telling time, rolling some dice
-    Enable Airplane mode, GPS, NFC, mobile data
-    Reboot, shutdown . . .

I hope this comprehensive review will make it easier for you to understand NFC technology.

For a purchase of NFC transponders or NFC readers and encoders, check the links.

If you have any questions send an email to or call +38641 884 124 and we will be happy to help you.
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