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What’s The Difference Between RFID And NFC?

rfid vs nfc

Depending on one’s unique needs, choosing the right access control system can be a tough task. There is a myriad of technologies and options to choose from. Wireless communication technologies have taken the world by storm. NFC (near field communication) and RFID (radio frequency identification) both power the Internet of Things (IoT). They are both wireless communication technologies that can be used in everything from payment to access control to asset tracking.


What is RFID?


This is a non-contact-based wireless technology that uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags. When scanned by a powered RFID reader, an unpowered RFID tag can provide information without the necessity of a direct line of sight. For asset tracking, RFID tags are often attached to an object. The tags can either be active (meaning they are powered and can transmit data) or passive (meaning they must be powered by a separate device). Most RFID systems include a short or long-range RFID reader with an antenna, a microchip with an antenna (tag), and an access control server.


What is NFC?


NFC is a wireless technology that enables short-range communication between compatible devices. It can be used for more complex, secure interactions as it’s capable of a two-way conversation. It is the perfect choice for contactless payments. With NFC, no need for extra reader infrastructure as the most modern mobile devices are now NFC-enables and can be used as a mobile reading device. NFC is used in proximity access control solutions as the technology is built upon the existing high-frequency RFID. No power is emitted in the form of radio waves as NFC technology utilizes only an alternating magnetic field. This prevents any interference from any radio communications or between similar devices operating at the same frequency. The system based on NFC technology is usually comprised of a target (sticker, tag, key fob, or a card) and an initiator (a reader). NFC tags contain read-only data and can securely hold personal data.


Major differences between these two technologies



NFC can offer complex and unique solutions such as peer-to-peer and card emulation as it is capable of two-way communication. RFID tags use radio frequency to identify, search, track, and communicate with people and items.



NFC-based readers tend to be cheaper than long-range RFID solutions due to their reduced reading range. This makes NFC a great solution for companies that want to employ a high-quality solution but are on a tight budget.


Reading range

RFID is the best solution for access and vehicle identification as it can read tags at distances going up to 10m while NFC technology operates on a reduced range called proximity.



The NFC technology can store and transmit multiple types of data. NFC devices can store more data than RFID devices due to their larger storage space. RFID devices can only carry simple ID information. Therefore, NFC is better suited to environments where membership, payment details, and ticket information need to be transferred.



With NFC technology, only one tag can be read at a time. RFID tags are used where there are a lot of trackable components as they operate at an ultra-high frequency of 840 MHz to 960 MHz.


Learn more about RFID Tag and NFC Tag.

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