What Are NFC Tags?

I was browsing one of my favorite blogs when I ran into a post about NFC Tags for personal use. These tags can be used to help a small business in ways that have not been fully counted yet.

What Are They?

sizeofAn NFC tag is a small often coin sized tag or label that is part of the NFC, near field communication, that many smartphones have built-in. It’s a secure means of wirelessly communicating information and requires a very close proximity, often inches, to share information. It is often cited in use to securely pay for items at retail. The customer would touch their phone to a terminal and it would prompt them on the screen to authorize the payment shown.

The technology, however, has more general uses than secure transactions. It is a way to identify a set of information and allows any phone or piece of hardware to run the commands that have been pre-configured or authorized by the owner.

What’s It Good For?

As above it is good for secure payments. But for small business I think there are interesting things that it can be used for.  Think of it as a macro transaction tool that allows you to script your phone. The way to understand its value is to go through an exercise. Think through your days and what you use your phone for. Are there any repetitive tasks that you use it for that takes a series of pokes, swipes, presses and clicks? Are these things done in a specific place or scenario?

If so then we have a candidate to use these tags. Let’s give some examples. I will focus mainly on items I think are good for small business but there are many developed for personal use. Whether these particular things are useful for you depends upon you and your business.

  • Arrival At Place Of Business – whether you work in your home office or in a truck or in a separate office location, when you arrive you may want to configure your phone to use your wifi, quiet your ring, bring up your calendar, bring your to-do list, checkin with social media. All of these things are done at once by leaving an NFC tag at your work (your keychain!) and tap our phone.
  • Business Card – Forget your business card? I never have the with me and I have give up using them. If you have a small card in your wallet you can keep all your contact information and give to someone with a bump. You can also do this with your phone but it’s a bit quicker from the tag.
  • In Your Car – I always start driving before turning on my bluetooth. I only use it in my car and driving and poking at my phone is dangerous. Turn on your GPS. Play a podcast – I listen to yesterday’s Marketplace and NPR Newshour daily.
  • Keychain – You may often want to toggle a set of things on and off like wifi, ringer volume and mute. This not to mention is easier to do when your phone rings inappropriately loud in some places, tap and quiet.
  • Bedside – I used to have to cover support through the night. When I don’t I don’t want the phone to wake me, when I was on I did. I also put the phone in power saving mode.
  • Give Access To Your Wifi – A client is visiting or anyone that needs or wants access. Provide an NFC tag and they can bump and they’re on. This is better than supplying network and password and a lot faster.
  • On Your Laptop – Keep a tag on your laptop and when you’re out tap your phone and give it access to your phone’s wifi hotspot. Make it a toggle and turn it off your phone when you are leaving.
  • Connect With Customers – Have a tag around when you have clients paying in a retail place to pick up specials and other vital information that you want to get to them. This is more a retail type of function but this works with many small business types. Offer them a discount and they get that along with what you want them to have.

What Are The Problems?

AA009679Many smartphones don’t have NFC. At the moment it is not what I would call ubiquitous. So you can’t count on the operations working with customers and vendors. But if you have an NFC phone go ahead and try it. I would put this in the technology leader category which means it isn’t available everywhere now. But it will be within a few years so playing with it can’t hurt.

Should I Use It?

Samsung-TecTiles-1339574765-0-11Only if you already have an NFC phone. You can buy these tags for about $1 each online. If you have a scenario that you know others have that function and it will help, experiment with it. Otherwise use it for personal use only to make your life more convenient.


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