The Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum has recently announced plans to significantly enhance the capabilities of NFC technology, promising to make contactless payments even more contactless. The proposed upgrades, while not immediate, mark a significant step forward in the evolution of contactless transactions and NFC technology as a whole.
NFC technology currently supports wireless connections of up to 5mm, a distance that still requires users to physically touch their smartphone to a point-of-sale (POS) terminal when making transactions. This requirement has been seen as a drawback to the notion of contactless payments, but the NFC Forum plans to address this issue by increasing the transmission range of NFC connections by up to sixfold.
The NFC Forum, which is responsible for keeping NFC connections streamlined and up-to-date, has laid out its plans to make NFC payments and wireless charging faster and easier over the next five years. The group has stated in a recent press release that even minor changes are sufficient to reduce the need to precisely align the antenna during contactless payments. As a result, when this particular improvement is made public, transactions made using payment platforms like Google Wallet or Samsung Pay will be much easier and faster.
Another key initiative set out by the NFC Forum is the increase of NFC’s power capacity for wireless charging. Currently, NFC can transmit wireless power up to 1W. The upgrade will increase this capacity up to 3W, a significant improvement that should enable wireless charging of smaller devices.
The NFC Forum also plans to enhance the functionality of NFC-capable smartphones. Future improvements include enabling a single tap to support several actions, such as point-to-point receipt delivery, loyalty identification, and total-journey ticketing. Additionally, the NFC Forum aims to equip smartphones with POS functionality and the ability to share data required for sustainability.
While these improvements represent a promising future for NFC technology and contactless payments, the roadmap is designed to come into fruition through 2028. The group indicates that “the individual work items are currently in varying stages of development, ranging from research to market requirements to draft specifications.” As such, it may take additional time for these initiatives to become widely available to consumers. For now, the vision of a completely wireless connection over NFC remains a goal for the future, but one that is clearly on the horizon.