Tuesday 13 September 2016

NFC - Your Smartphone Needs It

Earlier today I took my daughter to the dentist. It was a bit of a rush to get out of the house, and only after I parked and was walking to the dental office did I realize I'd forgotten my wallet at home.

I started to worry - how was I going to pay for parking? Then I recalled seeing NFC readers on the terminals at the exit and relaxed.

NFC stands for "Near Field Communications" and it's use is growing exponentially. Most credit cards and personal banking cards have NFC chips built in, and some loyalty programs (The Esso Speedpass for example) are making use of the technology as well.

NFC is exceptionally convenient, and when used on the appropriate platforms, presents no risk to the user.

"But HomeGeek, what if your phone got lost or stolen? Aren't you worried about racking up huge charges?"

In a word, no. This is where the "appropriate platform" piece comes in to play. Firstly my smartphone is protected by a password, and times out when not in use in under a minute. This means a potential crook would need to get my phone while it was unlocked, know to keep cycling through activities on it to prevent it from locking, find my banking app and guess the password to log in to the app, all before I noticed it was gone.

In Canada I am further covered because I'm not responsible for fraudulent charges on my credit card.

If I did find my phone was missing I'd get to a computer and log in to Android Device Manager, lock it immediately, then decide if I thought it was lost or stolen. With ADM I can flash a message on the screen asking whoever finds the phone to call a number (I'd arrange for them to hand it over at a local police station for a small reward) or I can remotely wipe the device. Either way, that phone isn't going to be much good to anyone.

When it was time for us to leave I drove up to the unmanned kiosk, inserted my ticket, and fired up my banking app. When the request for payment popped up on the kiosk I waved my smartphone in front of the reader and we drove out, the amount being automatically charged to my credit card.


This isn't the first time I've forgotten my wallet, but was potentially the most problematic. In the past I've forgotten it an not realized the oversight until I left the office to grab lunch. Ooops. Fortunately the same technology saved me then. Many of the local merchants support tap-and-pay terminals, so I was able to use by smartphone to buy lunch.

If your current smartphone doesn't have NFC as a feature I suggest adding it to your requirements list when it's time for an upgrade.

After all, no one ever plans on forgetting their wallet, but it happens. Why wouldn't you want the added piece of mind NFC brings?

Happy surfing!

-The Home Geek

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