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Financial Dictionary - NFC cards

NFC cards

NFC stands for “Near Field Communication”. This technology allows practically instantaneous wireless communication and data exchange between two devices that are less than 20 cm apart.

At first glance, the only difference between an NFC card and other cards is the easily recognisable symbol on one side: Four concentric waves.

Practically all banks now incorporate this technology into their cards, ATMs and POS systems.

How do NFC cards work?

Contactless cards use NFC technology to enable payment through POS terminals and ATMs without having to insert the card, simply by bringing the card into the vicinity of the contactless reader. Contactless readers are located in a small plate on ATMs and usually on the screen of POS terminals.

The card and the reader communicate instantaneously. When the card is recognised, a sound indicates that it has been read correctly. We can then put the card away without waiting for the transaction to be processed.

Most cards now include this type of NFC technology, although they can also be used with their magnetic strips or chips, in addition to contactless payment.

What are the advantages of NFC cards?

Convenience is the main advantage of NFC technology:

  • Communication is instantaneous.
  • You can make payments of less than €20 without entering your PIN.
  • Cards are much easier to use: bring them near, wait and you're done.
  • This technology is very secure and eliminates the risk of reading errors, as it works through the proximity of the devices.
  • NFC technology enables payment using mobile phones. Cardholders can register their cards in mobile phone apps, and then pay without having to present their physical card. Customers can choose which card to pay with and which cards they need to carry.


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