Have you ever wondered what kind of superpower you’d have? I’ve always wanted to send messages and ideas with my mind to others. My dream can sort of come true with near-field communications (NFC).

7DYou’ve might not have heard of NFC, but if you have a smartphone, there’s a good chance you’ve used it. If you have ever used Apple Pay or bumped your Galaxy smartphone with your buddy’s to send pictures, you have used NFC. By definition, NFC allows smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by bringing them close together, usually no more than a few inches or centimeters. It’s an exciting technology that has a lot of promise, but there are a few concerns too. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of NFC.

Pros

  • Convenient. In a busy digital world, people like transactions that are quick and easy. That is one of NFC’s greatest strengths. No more digging around a wallet or purse for a debit or credit card, all you need is your phone. The technology is intuitive—bring your phone close to the reader and a simple touch and bam! Transaction completed. Think about how much time that would save at coffee shops, grocery stores, etc.
  • Versatile. NFC can be used for many situations and in many different industries. In the future, NFC technology could allow you to use your phone to unlock your car, access public transportation, or launch applications depending on where you are (bedside table, work desk, etc.).
  • Safe. If your wallet is stolen, thieves immediately have access to your information. With a smartphone, your data can be protected by a password and/or PIN. But the biggest strength is that with NFC payment, retailers no longer have access to your credit card information.

Cons

  • Security. Although NFC technology is more secure than magnetic strip credit cards, there are still security concerns. As people use this technology to purchase items or access cars, there is more incentive for hackers to break into smartphones to steal financial and personal information.
  • Usability. NFC will only succeed if merchants and companies adopt it as the way of the mobile commerce future. Although the technology is consumer-friendly, it is expensive to purchase and install related equipment. And it still may take years before there are enough smartphone users for NFC to add enough value to merchants to implement.

NFC is a new and blossoming technology with lots of potential. Whether you decide to use it or not, there are always things you can do to keep your personal and financial information safe. For tips and ideas, check out Intel Security’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.

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