NFC: The Basics

NFC (Near Field Communication) technology is used to transmit payment account details and authentication data to merchants using radio frequencies. NFC can be used to emulate traditional magnetic strip transaction data or it can be used to perform contactless EMV transactions. When used in conjunction with an contactless EMV certified payment solution, NFC transaction transmit a unique cryptogram to the merchant's payment solution which is used to validate the integrity of the payment account and prevent counterfeit card transactions. Implementing the contactless EMV standard in the United States will help to maintain the integrity of our electronic payment systems, decrease data security risks associated with sensitive cardholder data and reduce credit and debit card fraud.

Below you'll find answers to some of the most common questions regarding NFC:
  • What is NFC? +

    NFC stands for Near Field Technology which allows for “Tap and Go” and “Proximity” type payments. NFC technology is used to support popular digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. Many cards are also embedded with NFC technology using the Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass specifications. Any card with a “wave” symbol can be used with an NFC enabled payment device or reader. NFC is an important component of contactless EMV technology. When an contactless payment is made at a merchant that has an EMV enabled payment solution, in most cases that payment will be considered a contactless EMV transaction and the merchant will not be liable for any counterfeit card fraud claims that may be associated with it.
  • What do I need to do to accept NFC payments? +

    Accepting NFC payments requires a payment device (credit card machine) with an NFC reader. Many popular payment devices sold today have built in NFC readers. These devices include the PAX S80 countertop terminal, the S90 3G mobile terminal, the D210 handheld wifi terminal, the S300 and SP30 pin pad and many more. For merchants who utilize the popular PAX MT30 customer facing signature capture device, an R50 can be added to enable support for NFC.
  • What do I need to do to support Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay™, Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass transactions? +

    All that needs to be done to support Apple Pay, Android Pay, MasterCard PayPass and Visa payWave is to implement an NFC enabled payment solution as described in the previous answer. Samsung Pay can also use the same NFC solution, however it is unique in that merchants can also accept Samsung Pay without needing an NFC reader. Samsung's proprietary technology allows Samsung Pay enabled devices to be tapped alongside an existing MSR (magnetic stripe reader) which is the equivalent to swiping a traditional credit card. It is important to note, Samsung Pay transactions that are run in this fashion do not count as contactless EMV and merchants who accept them will be responsible for any counterfeit card fraud claims against those transactions if the account used originated from an EMV enabled card. For this reason, we recommend all merchants use NFC readers to perform any contactless transactions.
  • I was told by another company that I HAD to update my terminal / POS software right now for NFC and EMV, is that correct? +

    No. There is no law that says a merchant has to accept NFC or EMV payment technologies. The way the card brands encourage adoption of both contactless EMV and contact EMV technologies is by changing their rules for who is liable for counterfeit card fraud when an EMV enabled payment account is used. Beginning October 1, 2015, merchants who accept card present counterfeit credit and debit card transactions that originate from EMV enabled payment accounts became liable for the face value of those transactions. As of the date of the liability shift, we estimate only about 20% of the US cards in circulation were EMV enabled. For most merchants, the immediate risk of the EMV liability shift is relatively low, however those merchants that sell high ticket items or who are traditionally targets of fraud should be looking to upgrade their systems in the near term. We encourage all merchants to plan on adopting EMV by mid 2016 if not sooner. We are committed to assisting all of our clients with the EMV transition and we plan to do so in a manner that upholds their best interests.
  • I currently use a POS with integrated processing. What are my options for supporting NFC? +

    If you have a point of sale system, we recommend contacting your POS vendor and asking them about their plans to support NFC and EMV. Most POS system developers are familiar with the US migration to EMV, but have yet to formalize plans to support it in their systems. Encourage your POS developer to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about adding NFC & EMV capabilities to their system. We offer simple integration technology that allows POS developers to add NFC and EMV support with little development time and expense.
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