Short for near-field communication, NFC is standards developed primarily for smartphones for two-way communication between the device and tag by bringing them close to one another. The range of NFC is very short, usually only an inch or less. The NFC standards are defined by the NFC Forum, formed in 2004 by Nokia, Philips, and Sony. Today, there are over 160 members of the NFC Forum.
NFC can be used for a number of things, including commerce, user identification, and security. Google Wallet employs NFC to allow for MasterCard PayPass purchase transactions, where accepted. Buses in China utilize NFC for transport payment. It is also possible to use NFC capable devices as access cards for entering secure facilities, similar to currently used RFID security tokens. The advantage of NFC in this area is that it supports encryption, allowing for improved security. While similar to Bluetooth technology, both being short range, NFC runs at a slower speed, but uses much less power and does not require capable devices to be paired before use.
NFC tags, like the one shown on this page, may be purchased and programmed to do anything you want. For example, a NFC tag can be programmed to turn off your phone's Wi-Fi, go into silent, or airplane mode when scanned by a NFC-enabled phone to save battery power when in your car.