Difference Between NFC and RFID

NFC and RFID are global contactless communication technologies. The NFC can be described as the technology which allows enabled devices present within close proximity to share data wirelessly. NFC has gained much popularity in the payment industry in recent years, with an increase in mobile wallets and contactless payments.

As evident from the terms, RFID employs radio waves to transfer identifying information from the electronic object tag to the electronic reader. NFC is a modified version of RFID and is more fine-tuned. One of the practical uses of RFID is the implantation of RFID chips on dogs and other pet animals that can be scanned in case the pet is lost.

This article will discuss the differences between NFC and RFID in the context of the IAS Exam.

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The following are the significant points of difference between NFC and RFID:

  1. Operating distance: The RFID technology is functional over long distances, while NRC is operational over short distances only. The electronic tags of RFID can be detected from a distance of 100 meters and do not require to remain in a direct line of sight to be read. On the other hand, NFC needs to be visible to the reader to be detected.
  2. Ways of communication: A one-way communication system is supported by the RFID; that is, the RFID tag can send electronic information to the electronic reader. Whereas NFC supports both one-way and two-way communication, in essence, NFC acts as a reader as well as a tag. This two-way communication system is advantageous for complex interactions such as card emulation and peer-to-peer interaction.
  3. Reading of data: Data in huge volumes or batches can be read by RFID technology and thus proves beneficial for tasks like inventory management. On the other hand, NFC can read a single tag at one time. Even though NFC qualifies as a time-consuming reader, it serves well in contactless payment procedures.
  4. Frequency of devices: RFID is operational under various ranges of frequencies, including low frequency (125-134 kHz), high frequency (up to 13MHz), and ultra-high frequency (up to 960 MHz). RFID is also operated from 10 centimetres to 100 meters of range. In contrast, the NFC is functional only up to the high-frequency range.

The RFID technology is mostly used for identification purposes, which include asset tracking, race timing, inventory management, and attendee tracking. Communication is the prime function of NFC technology. It is widely used in data and information chains and in-store check-in purposes. Post-sale product experience is a millennial strategy that makes use of NFC technology.

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Difference Between RFID and NFC in Tabular Form

The key difference between RFID and NFC can be interpreted through the following table:



RFID is equipped to read electronic tags up to a large distance.

NFC operates on a reduced range.

RFID primarily supports the one-way type of communication.

Both one-way and two-way communication can be undertaken by NFC.

A bulk amount of tags can be scanned at a time with RFID technology.

Only one electronic tag can be read by NFC readers at a time.

RFID technologies are not supplied with a huge storage capacity.

NFC solutions are equipped with vast storage space and thus can transmit more data.

RFID solutions are expensive due to their long-range functions and bulk scanning system.

Due to the reduced distance range, the NFC readers come cheaper as compared to RFID readers.

Both NFC and RFID come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Organizations with a minimal budget but aiming to develop technologically can go for NFC solutions. RFID solutions are sought-after in inventory management facilities and services.

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Frequently Asked Questions on the Difference Between NFC and RFID


Where are the NFC solutions most widely used?

Due to the close proximity function of the NFC, the electronic readers are capable of detecting tags from a few centimetres only. That is why NFC solutions are widely used in secure communications and in customer sectors for contactless payments.


How can NFC and RFID be differentiated on the basis of the volume of data read?

RFID solutions are designed to read batches of electronic tags at one time. On the other hand, NFC reads a single electronic tag at a time.


State one prominent use for each of NFC and RFID.

RFID solutions are primarily employed for identification purposes. For instance, in inventory management, attendee tracking, and car speed detection. NFC technology is used for communication purposes, such as contactless payment and mobile wallets.

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