How to Attract Customers Using Near Field Communications

October 9, 2013 Mandeep Panesar

Near Field Communications (NFC) allows data to be transferred between mobile devices, or between a mobile device and an NFC-equipped sticker, simply by touching them together or bringing them within close proximity. NFC is capable of enhancing promotional campaigns, contributing to the customer experience, and facilitating payments.

For those unfamiliar, NFC is not really an alternative to Bluetooth. When a user bumps an NFC-enabled device with another one, the NFC initiates the process (e.g., turns on the Bluetooth in both devices), and the medium is responsible for the transfer of data. Essentially, NFC is responsible for turning the sharing medium (e.g., Bluetooth or Wifi Direct, depending on the size of the data) on and off, and saving the time and hassle it ordinarily takes to pair devices, enter passwords/verification, and the such. The process is much more seamless, and the common user wouldn’t even notice that a medium played a part in the transfer of data.

Let’s explore some more methods of how NFC can contribute to your business:

Peer-2-Peer Transfers

With apps like Smart Tags for BB10, users can create basic tags or scripts to share links, exchange virtual business cards, or directly input various other forms of information into friends’ phones. Earlier P2P initiatives, like BitTorrent, have given us an idea of how far content can spread when it has the right infrastructure; for example, when bestselling author Tim Ferriss was promoting his book The 4-Hour Chef, he uploaded exclusive content to share with users. The content was downloaded by over 2 million users and resulted in hundreds of thousands of clickthroughs to trailers and the purchase page.

This means items like mobile coupons, webpages with exclusive location-based information, and other types of promotional content can be spread much more quickly, and with much less friction, compared to non-NFC enabled file transfer methods, such as Bluetooth or e-mail (which require pairing and login, respectively).

Credit Card Payments

NFC is best known for its ability to transfer credit card information to facilitate mobile payments (mPayments). There is already a ton of coverage on this topic around the web, so I won’t delve too deeply into it, but it would have been impossible for me not to mention it at all.

For those of you who have not heard about it, NFC is already being used in programs like Mastercard’s PayPass. The beauty of NFC lies in its ability to speed up the payments and line queues while ensuring the payments go through, all with one tap of the customer’s mobile phone.

Smart Tags/Posters

The convenience of smart tags and posters is enhanced by smart triggers. Here’s an example of a smart trigger: visitors to your venue can tap an NFC tag to connect to a secured Wifi network, which means they don’t need your Wifi login. This maintains security while removing a barrier for visitors and streamlining the process, which enhances their experience.

Compared to QR codes or barcodes, NFC works more effectively because it is capable of storing more information. QR codes only work under ideal lighting conditions; however, NFC can be effective regardless of lighting. That means any outdoor promotional posters including NFC would be more effective during the night, or cloudy days, than promotional posters featuring QR codes.

Closing Thoughts

NFC-enabled devices are bringing a new layer of engagement to mobile technology. NFC enables you to craft more creative and reliable marketing promotions, enhance the customer’s experience, or facilitate payments. It’s now up to you to take advantage of it to be more effective and efficient with your business than ever before.


Connect with Mandeep on LinkedIn.

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