Ten Industries Adopting NFC Technology

By Megan R. Nichols

Businesses and shoppers can both benefit when people can make payments and obtain information with a quick tap of a smartphone.


Near Field Communication (NFC) concerns a set of protocols that allow two electronic devices to communicate across distances of 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) or less. Here are 10 sectors adopting NFC technology in fascinating ways.

1. Healthcare
The medical sector is gradually adopting technologies to benefit providers and patients alike. NFC technology factors into that progressive effort. One recent research paper suggests using an NFC tag system to access cloud-stored medical records. Another innovation concerns a temperature-taking, self-adhesive patch. Users an tap it to perform a check and can opt to send the results to a healthcare professional.

2. Agriculture
Technology in the farming sector plays a crucial role in massively important issues like food security and climate change preparedness. Some parties use NFC technology to achieve their goals. In Bangladesh, an NFC-enabled debit card helps financial institutions issue loans. The small-scale farmers who receive them can pay for the things they need at approved outlets. Another solution uses this technology to monitor banana growth on a cooperative in Vietnam.

3. Higher Education
Working with this protocol also assists the higher education sector. Today’s students appreciate convenience, while administrators love efficiency. More than a dozen universities in the United States recently committed to a system that facilitates smartphone payments at on- and off-campus outlets. Researchers are investigating how to use this option to monitor attendance, especially for large classes in which traditional methods prove too time-intensive to use effectively.

4. Hotels
Hotels face a daunting challenge to entice guests back during a global pandemic. However, technology could help. Some housekeepers avail of an NFC tag or wristband when cleaning rooms. That system tells them which rooms to clean and informs them of any special requests. Alternatively, contactless payment systems could streamline purchases of gift shop items, minibar products and room upgrades.

5. Retail
Retailers were among the earliest adopters of mobile payments, and that trend continues. Kroger recently rolled out a solution that lets people buy things, plus avail of curbside pickup or a mobile checkout service. These options speed interaction times and let people take care of more essentials on their phones before arriving at a store. Retailers could also integrate point-of-sale statistics into a data-management platform (DMP). A DMP collects and organizes audience information for better ad targeting and customized content to keep people interested and position the brand as relevant.

6. Transportation
Taxi companies began using NFC technology several years ago. They unveiled mobile payment services first to help passengers pay for their trips securely and quickly. Personalized advertising came next, usually when a person tapped their smartphone to a screen in a cab. More recently, transportation authorities in Turin, Italy, allowed people to pay for bus and subway journeys with the same method when using compatible smartphones.

7. Event Management
Event organizers historically used options like barcode scanners and turnstiles to accurately capture metrics about attendance and restrict access when necessary. However, using an NFC tag approach could become the norm soon. Some analysts believe they will be standard at large gatherings, but only if planners stay open to adapting. The main benefit for attendees is that people can preload their event wristbands with money instead of carrying cash or cards. However, this approach helps from a management point of view, too. For example, if someone pays extra to get VIP access or a meet-and-greet, the data associated with the wristband could reflect that. This would prevent people from wearing lanyard-style passes they might lose.

8. Law Enforcement
The law-enforcement industry has yet to adopt NFC innovations broadly. However, many of its early efforts center on identity verification and reducing paper trails. One example uses the technology for weapons tracking, while another use case applies NFC to officer identification to curb attempts at impersonation. Police in Germany and Austria also use an app that allows the biometric chip on the front of someone’s ID to be scanned in order to verify its authenticity. This process speeds up timeframes associated with border control.

9. Cannabidiol Products
One of the primary stumbling blocks for cannabidiol (CBD) products is the lack of consumer education. The sizeable stigma associated with legal cannabis and CBD products means that many people avoid buying them and worry about the items’ integrity. Some manufacturers are trying to address that issue with an NFC tag system. It helps authenticate the merchandise that consumers purchase. People can use their smartphones to check that they bought a genuine product and not a counterfeit offering. Another recent application concerns an NFC-enabled sticker on CBD vape cartridges that tells people more about a pod’s contents.

10. Restaurants
Successful dining establishments must implement strategies to improve efficiency while increasing convenience for customers. Doing so increases the chances of people returning while giving the businesses more opportunities to serve as many hungry occupants as possible. Chick-Fil-A launched a solution in 2019 that let people check into a location, order items and have them sent to the table. This setup eliminated the need to wait in lines for service. Several restaurants in Atlanta also did something similar by letting people tap their phones to see menu items, order and pay. The goal is to cut down on the shared surfaces touched during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Viable Option on the Rise
These 10 industries are in various stages of adoption with their use of NFC tags. The diversity of the examples shown here illustrates the worthiness of applying the technology to business needs. When people can retrieve information or make payments with quick taps, companies and consumers both benefit.

Megan R. Nichols is a STEM writer who contributes to sites like Sensors Online and EPS News. Megan has also published easy-to-understand manufacturing and engineering articles on her personal blog, Schooled By Science. Keep up with Megan by following her on Twitter.