RFID and NFC technology have both been known for their wireless communication capability. Their innovation has become integral in shaping how industries interact today.

The choice between RFID and NFC is a critical decision for businesses. While they share wireless characteristics, these technologies are different in operation and applications. They can directly impact operations, customer interaction, and your costs.

Understanding their unique workings will help you choose which one can meet your needs. Here is a breakdown of the characteristics of RFID and NFC technology


Understanding RFID and NFC


Understanding RFID and NFC

What is Radio Frequency Identification

RFID is composed of a chip and a reader that uses radio wave communication. These chips can be integrated into cards, tags, and other objects used for identification. RFID chips come in a variety to fit different business needs. Remarkably, they can be read for up to 100m in range.

You may notice businesses such as retail, livestock, and toll systems use RFID. This is because they can read information without “tapping” the items individually. They also prefer RFID because they get to track many items in one scan. Imagine shipping your products overseas without the need to count them at every stop. That’s how convenient RFID technology is.


What is Near Field Communication (NFC)?

What is Near Field Communication

To understand NFC, you should know that it is essentially a subset of  RFID. However, NFC only operates in short-range communications, at a frequency of 13.56MHz. This means that, unlike RFID tags, NFC tags should come close to a reader.

NFC is an ideal choice for businesses that want seamless solutions for wireless transactions. Examples of these solutions are payment, building access, and personnel identification. What’s exciting is that smartphones are now equipped with NFC systems. Imagine getting real-time information with one phone scan.


Comparing RFID and NFC


What is the difference between NFC vs RFID?

What is the difference between NFC vs RFID

RFID and NFC technology differ in range, application, and communication. As previously stated, RFID has a greater reading range than NFC. This makes it suitable for asset tracking. On the other hand, NFC is commonly used for proximity transactions.

Another major difference between the two is their communication. RFID technology communicates one way, meaning that a reader can scan a chip. But not vice versa. On the other hand, NFCs can communicate two-way. An NFC device can be a reader and a tag on its own. This allows peer-to-peer communication between users.


Here is a table to better understand the differences between RFID and NFC technology.


Reading Range Up to 100 meters Up to 3 meters
Proximity Requirements It can be read at a distance even without a direct line of sight or contact Must be within close proximity of a few centimeters to be read
Communication Method One way Two-way
Radio Frequency Can operate for up to 3GHz Operates at 13.56 MHz
Speed Can read multiple tags at once Can read one tag at a time
Data Can hold simple ID information Can hold various types of data
Cost Effectiveness More cost-efficient Has an additional encryption cost
Applications Inventory Management, Asset Tracking, Livestock Tracking, Vehicle Tracking, Logistics Public Transportation, Payments, Access Control, Data Exchange, Ticketing


Exploring the Pros and Cons


RFID Pros and Cons

RFID Pros and Cons

One of the main advantages of RFID technology is convenience. It has the ability to read up to 700 products in a second. This is attractive for businesses that need many products to be scanned at once. Let’s take logistics as an example. RFID technology can wirelessly update warehouse systems whenever there’s movement in their assets.

It also comes with diverse types and ranges that can be tailored to specific needs. Businesses can choose which frequency and type they prefer to optimize their use of RFID technology.

The downside of using RFID technology is its security. With the right reader, the chip can be read and information may be taken unauthorized. Hackers can even modify the information stored in the chip once hacked.


NFC Pros and Cons

NFC Pros and Cons

When compared to RFID, NFC technology is much more secure. It can also perform transactions using smartphones so it’s attractive to businesses whose market involves the use of mobile transactions.

Its two-way communication feature also gives NFC an advantage. This feature comes in handy when transactions are dependent. For example, a customer can read NFC tags or be scanned by a reader. Many applications now support this feature such as Apple Pay.

However, one of the setbacks lies in its distance. You have to be within close proximity to the reader to gain access. It is also quite expensive compared to RFID. If your business requires tracking assets, NFC is not the right choice. You’ll be better off with RFID technology as NFC will cost more in bulk.

Finally, compared to RFID technology, NFC has a slower data transfer. It has a speed of 400Kbit/s. That is the reason why most transfers only contain websites for clients to access.


A Deeper Understanding of RFID and NFC Technologies


How does RFID work?

How does RFID work

RFID technology works by using radio waves for communication. On one end, you have a tag or a card containing an RFID chip. On the other end, is an RFID reader. RFID chips have antennas that let you communicate with a reader.

As long as the chip and reader are in range, communication can happen. No contact is required or even a direct line of site. This makes it easier to track large quantities of items.


RFID Applications

RFID Applications

Because RFID technology offers a wider read range, it’s mostly used in inventory management. Businesses investing in this technology save time and effort in tracking. Its versatility in handling harsh environments makes it suitable for many businesses.

A common application of RFID tech also includes truck tolls. RFID can make toll systems more efficient. With one scan, it can determine all information carried by a truck. Information may include the weight of the truck, items inside the truck, and destination.


How NFC Works

How NFC Works

NFC technology also works with a chip that is incorporated into objects like labels and stickers. When scanning, you should be at least four inches near the chip. It uses radio waves to communicate at a frequency of 13.56MHz.


NFC applications

NFC applications

This technology is known for its use in contactless payments, public transportation, and ticketing. Having been integrated into smartphones, they are also used in peer-to-peer transactions.


NFCs can also be integrated into key cards. This gives employees, students, or guests the ability to access locations.  Because of their short distance, users can be sure to have more security in communicating with their readers.

The Evolution and Growth of RFID and NFC Technology


RFID technology was officially patented in 1973. However, this technology was not adopted fast enough when it was launched. The production of RFID tags was expensive during those times because of their sizes. The chips were much bigger compared to today.

Nowadays, their cost has significantly lowered. The use of carbon nanotubes for chip production helped the prices to go down. RFID has bridged many gaps in wireless communication. Its efficiency can be seen in its rapid integration into modern society.

NFCs on the other hand have become more popular with smartphones. Most smartphone now comes with NFC systems with communication going both ways. It has also been integrated with smart devices such as wristbands and fitness watches. NFC’s success has predicted the market to be valued at $33.1 by 2030.

Its application in payment cards and access has penetrated numerous industries. This makes it a prominent mark that greatly shaped the way we interact today.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the best NFC Chip?


There are a lot of NFC chips in the market today. it may be confusing for first-time users to choose which one is best. There are factors to be considered such as available memory, encryption, and data retention.


There are five NFC chip types but 2, 4, and 5 are commonly used. Some of the reliable chips are included in the table below.



NFC Chip Type Standard Kown NFC Chips Common Applications
NFC Type 2 ISO/IEC 14443–3A NTAG213, NTAG215, NTAG 216, Mifare Ultralight EV1, Mifare Ultralight C Marketing Applications, Product Identification, Presentation, Bluetooth Pairing, Wi-Fi configuration
NFC Type 4 ISO/IEC 14443-4A/B NXP Mifare DESFire, NTAG 424 DNA, 424 DNA Tag Tamper, MIFARE Plus EV2 Secure Access Control, Public Transportation, Cashless Vending, Ticketing
NFC Type 5 ISO/IEC 15693 and ISO 18000-3M1 ICODE SLIX, ICODE SLIX 2, ICODE DNA, EM4233, EM4327, ST25TV Library, Product Authentication, Pharmaceuticals, Jewelry and Luxury Goods, Cards and Documents, Ticketing, Asset Tagging.


Is RFID Technology Secure?


To increase RFID security, additional standards have been made to secure data. However, despite standards and monitoring, it is still susceptible to certain risks. One concern is an unsecured back-end database which can lead to data explotation.To minimize risks, additional security such as password reset, encryption, and added authentication should be implemented.

Does my phone have NFC?


To find out if your Android phone is NFC enabled, you can check your settings. Search for NFC and contactless payments. To enable this, simply switch the NFC option to “ON.”



RFID and NFC may be confusing for beginners because they both offer wireless connectivity. However, RFIDs are most likely used to track assets because of their reading range. On the other hand, NFCs are applied in close proximity transactions.


Discover how they work and align them with the specific requirements of your business.

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