Posts

Apple iOS 11 Supports Reading NFC Tags for iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 with Core NFC API

UPDATE Sept 12th, 2017: Read the new post Finally Read NFC Tags with an iPhone App on iOS 11

Apple has just announced at WWDC 2017 that iOS 11 will have support for reading NFC tags and NDEF messages. This means that all iPhone 7 and newer will be able to read NFC tags just like Android. While the iOS NFC API docs (Core NFC) are live on the Apple developer site, they appear to be at an early stage and there are still some questions. We’ll cover these questions and answers as they come in. For context, you should read up on other previous posts about Apple and NFC over the past couple years. If you have any questions, please either contact us or via Twitter @gototags.

Download the GoToTags iPhone App to read NFC tags and scan barcodes!

Is this for real?

Yes, it’s for real. It’s the moment the NFC industry has been waiting for.

What are the implications of this?

Huge, a fundamental change in how we interact with physical items and their digital counterparts. NFC is now a horizontal technology like the camera, WiFi and Bluetooth. Previously NFC had success but only in vertical markets such as asset tracking, security, gaming and closed event systems. Now going forward, most people will have an NFC reader available in their pocket to interact with NFC tags. Think about how the camera changed things…

What new use cases will be supported?

You will see a significant increase in consumer focused uses cases. This includes out-of-home marketing, smart product labels and packaging, interactive event experiences, rich gaming, product authentication and information and so many before. This is where NFC breaks away from its RFID roots. UHF RFID and NFC before the iPhone supported NFC tags was relegated to closed loop deployments in which the device was controlled via an entity “use this phone to do your job”. Now application developers and services providers can start to count on the consumer already having a device (phone) which can read NFC tags; in the same way they expect the phone to have a camera/GPS/WiFi. What you will see is things in the physical world now have NFC tags in them to link to its digital counterpart. We call this the Connected Things segment of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Where is the NFC Core developer documentation?

It’s here.

What models of the iPhone will be able to read NFC tags?

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, as well as the upcoming iPhone 8 will be able to read NFC tags. Technically the iPhone 6+ has an NFC controller in it to support Apple Pay and will receive iOS 11. However they will not support NFC tag reading at this time. The iPhone 7 did change some of the NFC hardware, so it’s possible that Apple thought this upgraded hardware a requirement for the best NFC tag reading experience.

How many iPhones will now be able to read NFC tags?

By the end of 2017, I’d guess 250M+. Many consumers have been waiting for the upcoming iPhone 8 to upgrade. Think about this; it’s unprecedented in technology. Never before has a market increased by so much is such a little time. This is because Apple has been selling this hardware capability for over a year now, and it’s just a software update to enable.

When will this be available?

The iOS 11 beta is available for download now. The public release will be available shortly after the September 12th 2017 event, likely along with the iPhone 8.

What NFC functions are available?

Only reading NFC tags is supported in iOS 11, not writing NFC tags or card emulation.

Why just support reading NFC tags and not writing?

In our experience, regular consumers just don’t encode NFC tags. Only geeks (like us) and a few verticals support it. In 99% of projects we have worked on (millions of NFC tags), the tags are pre-encoded before delivery to the consumer. The implication of this is that NFC tags must be NDEF encoded in order to be read by an iPhone. This is fine; the GoToTags Store offers an NFC tag encoding service and NFC Encoder software and hardware for those that want to encode NFC tags themselves.

Is an app required or is there native support for handling of specific NDEF records?

An app is required to read NFC tags on the iPhone. This is different than Android which has native functionality in the operating system that when it encounters certain types NDEF records, it will perform their natural action on the phone. For example, a website record will open the url in the browser. This is likely something Apple will change in the future to improve the user experience. For now, you will need to use the GoToTags iPhone App.

Does it support NDEF?

Yes, but not completely. There is base level support for NDEF messages and records, but no typed classes for NDEF record (uri, text, contact, mime…). It’s easy to write those record subclasses so this isn’t concerning. GoToTags has a free iPhone app, and if there are any missing gaps in the SDK we will fill those in. We already have a complete NFC/NDEF SDK for .NET Windows so it’s easy for us.

Which NFC chip types are supported?

NFC types 1 – 5 are supported; which is all of them. This includes Mifare Ultralight, the NXP NTAG series and the longer range SLI series. If you aren’t sure which to use for your project, contact us and we can help.

Is it possible to read the NFC chip’s UID?

No, iOS 11 will not be able to read the NFC chip’s UID. This has some implications as the UID is used for functionality such as product authentication, anti-cloning and counterfeiting. Several projects did not take our advice and have just used the UID; time to rethink that. As a simple solution, our Encoder software can encode the UID in an NDEF record, although there really are better encoding strategies. See our help site for more details.

Why did Apple release an NFC API now?

It’s about time! Android has had an NFC SDK since 2010 and Apple Pay is successful. See our other posts about Apple and NFC. In general I think Apple finally saw NFC for what it is, a base-level technology that is a required hardware component in a modern smartphone in 2017. Everyone always asked “How will Apple make money off NFC?”. Wrong question, it’s akin to asking “How will Apple make money from the camera?”. Plus there are the ~2% transaction fees from Apple Pay.

How does this affect ApplePay?

It will not affect Apple Pay at all. While NFC is used as the mode of communication for Apple Pay, VAS (Passbook) and now reading NFC tags; the secure element used for ApplePay and VAS is not used when reading and writing NFC tags.

Will the Apple Watch also support reading NFC tags?

Yes, the Apple Watch will also be able to read NDEF records from NFC tags. We expected it to as it would make for an interesting user experience. Apple has already been driving their customers to use NFC on the Apple Watch for payments via Apple Pay, so this is a natural extension to that.

Will macOS support NFC?

There was no mention of this. macOS does support PC/SC so it is possible to build an NFC SDK and app, but you would be starting from a very low level.

How many calls/emails/texts did I have about this on the day it was announced?

Over 50, from partners, customers, friends, family, coworkers, investors, suppliers, competitors and press; along with record website traffic.

What’s next?

Game on. If you don’t already have an NFC strategy, now is the time to get your team together and figure out what NFC means to you. We can help you. We have worked on over 20,000 projects; some being very small and others are with Fortune 100 customers that we’ve been working on for 2+ years. Contact us and we’ll respond quickly.

 

Why the Apple iPhone 8 Should Support NFC Tags

UPDATE Sept 12th, 2017: Read the new post Finally Read NFC Tags with an iPhone App on iOS 11

This is the third post in our series on Apple iPhone support for NFC tags. If you haven’t read the previous posts yet, head over here and here so you’re up to speed.

It’s spring again, which means the rumor mill for the upcoming new iPhone 8 and iOS 9 is in full swing. This year is different though as it’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, so consumers are expecting something amazing. This hope is reinforced by the perceived lackluster iPhones of recent years, although the market doesn’t seem to share that sentiment. Consumers harken for the days of Steve Jobs dazzling them with each new iPhone release but lately it seems that the Apple Watch and other recent Apple products can’t quite match up to consumers’ expectations anymore. If the rumors are true, it does look like this year’s iPhone 8 will be something special. But will the new iPhone support NFC tags and other non-payment use cases?

 

Download the GoToTags iPhone App to read NFC tags and scan barcodes!

As we have covered in the previous articles, the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch do have NFC, but it’s only being used to support Apple Pay and VAS (Value Added Services) aka Passbook. Apple has yet to release an iOS NFC SDK to allow for app developers to build non-payment related functions. Several banks have made a big deal about this as it limits competition but Apple has pretty much won this battle with the “security” argument I’ve covered previously. So, given the story so far, what does the future hold? Will Apple ever support NFC tags?

To get a better understanding of the issue, we should realize that we’re probably asking the wrong question. Instead of “will”, the question should be, “Why should Apple support NFC tags?”. Apple has become the company it is today because it is very purposeful about what it does. Every device, feature, icon, color, sound and text is all there for a specific reason, and has likely also been prototyped and A/B tested over several iterations. This is what has given devices like the iPhone the prestige market position it has today. Apple’s competitors, in particular Google, apply more of an iterative, engineering based philosophy and are happy to put products out in the market to see how they perform and then refine them in future versions. You can see this reflected in how both companies have approached NFC.

Apple will support reading NFC tags in the iPhone when there is a reason to. So why haven’t they already? GoToTags has been working with NFC for 6 years, and we have watched the market develop over time. It’s quite amazing how little press NFC gets, given how it is transforming how we interact with items in the physical world. We work every day with companies large and small that are waking up to NFC and how it is changing their business. After 20,000+ orders of NFC tags, software and hardware and thousands of app users, the future has arrived early for some but it doesn’t seem like the press and bloggers have caught up yet. This silent groundswell adoption of NFC has been occurring in earnest over the last 18 months, yet it goes mainly unnoticed, including for the most part by Apple. This is partially due to the preliminary stages of many these projects, and the increasing importance of them over time. GoToTags has signed more NDAs than we can count for this reason.

NFC cannot stay hidden for much longer. GoToTags and others have been working for years with companies on prototype projects, that are now moving into full deployment. In these projects, NFC is changing the ways that products work and in some cases, redefining what companies are. The list of industries that NFC is changing is growing quickly and includes security, gaming, transportation, event ticketing, biotech, asset tracking, product authentication and product marketing. In these projects, NFC is either being embedded into a physical item (ticket, toy, product…) and/or NFC is the method in which digital items are transferred between devices.

These aren’t small projects either; GoToTags has many customers whose projects have deployed 100k+ NFC tags and a handful that have deployed 1M+. These projects are also becoming more consumer focused. Recently Nintendo released amiibo, which has NFC enabled physical characters, and we sold out of our stock of the NTAG215 chip type within hours (don’t worry, more on the way). All of this in a market where nobody knows that NFC is even happening.

What will change Apple’s mind? In many of these projects, because the iPhone does not support NFC tags, the business is either forced to choose Android as their device platform, or live in a world where their iPhone app is crippled compared to its Android counterpart. The NFC functionality is too important for these products. Thus, the iPhone loses its prestige and looks inferior to its Android competitors. That is a big deal and as soon as Apple believes this it will reassess its stance on NFC. Remember that originally Steve Jobs didn’t want to allow apps on the iPhone, yet they caved in due to market pressure from companies that wanted to offer products to consumers via mobile devices. Now the App Store is a massive revenue generator for Apple and an integral part of the mobile experience. NFC is the next step in the technology arms race. Do you think Apple is going to sit back and ignore Nintendo and others’ success?

Once the technological genie has been released it cannot be put back in the bottle. NFC is happening right now in a big way and thousands of companies are figuring out what it means to them. Apple is becoming more aware of this and looking at NFC use cases beyond payment. GoToTags is involved in several ways. We are working on a new series of blog posts that are more in-depth use cases for NFC. More importantly though, we are continuing to work with companies to help them think through all of this to make sure they don’t misstep or miss out. If you have read this far, you might want to just contact us to see how we can help you too.

What do you think? Tell us @gototags

GoToTags Releases .NET SDK for NFC, Barcode Scanners and I/O Control

GoToTags announces the release of its commercial .NET SDK, enabling software developers to easily write their own Microsoft Windows based desktop applications using NFC, barcode scanners and input/output control systems. The .NET SDK was designed and tested with over 5 years of experience developing its own applications, including the GoToTags Windows App and GoToTags NFC Encoder software and Reel-Reel NFC Encoder hardware. The SDKs are easy to use and include code documentation and working example code to read and write NFC tags and scan barcodes with barcode scanners.

The .NET NFC SDK works with a variety of NFC readers and NFC tags; allowing developers to read and encode NFC tags with either NDEF or raw data formats along with reading the NFC chip’s UID, chip type (NTAG213, NTAG215..) and other properties. The .NET Barcode SDK works with barcodes scanners from Motorola, Zebra and Leuze and supports all popular 1D and 2D barcode formats including Code 128, UPC, Datamatrix and QR codes. The .NET I/O SDK works with the Velleman VM100N and is used to read and set digital and analog inputs, outputs and counters; allowing developers to easily integrate motor control systems, counters and other sensors and electronic devices.

The GoToTags .NET SDK is comprised of three distinct IoT SDKs; NFC, Barcode and I/O. Each SDK can be licensed separately or all three SDKs licensed together. Three licensing plans are available tailored to suit the specific needs of all our customers: Basic, Professional and Enterprise. The Basic plan is closed source and is ideal for applications requiring just one of the SDKs (NFC, Barcode or I/O). The Professional and Enterprise tiers are suited to customers who need to develop full featured applications and includes access to all three SDKs. The Enterprise license additionally provides access to view and fork the SDK source code in our GitHub repository. Licenses are per-developer with no runtime licenses or royalty fees. Each license include a 1 year subscription for support and upgrades.

A free 2-week trial is available to test the .NET SDK to allow for implementation and verification before purchase.

GoToTags Updates its NFC Tag Encoder Software and Hardware with v3.11 Release

We are excited to announce a major new release of our NFC tag encoding software plus a new version of our Reel-Reel NFC encoding hardware. This release will also coincide with the transition to a completely new subscription pricing model offering our customers a choice of several plans to suit their needs.

This is great news for our existing and new customers as the functionality of the encoding software is greatly improved and the new subscription pricing model allows us to offer lower per tag prices and provide better service.

The NFC Encoder software is commercial grade Windows software to encode and verify NFC tags and barcodes. The v3.11 software release includes many major changes including:

  • Support for Windows 10 and high-dpi monitors
  • Switch to use new GoToTags .NET SDK for barcode and hardware control
  • An updated and cleaner UI
  • Multiple minor bug fixes and performance improvements

The newly designed NFC Reel-Reel Encoder hardware has been optimized for high-speed NFC tag encoding and includes:

  • A more functional design that can meet industrial scale workflows
  • Support for additional sensors via a new highly adjustable sensor rail mounting system
  • Support for new Leuze tag counters including both optical and ultrasonic tag counters
  • The ability to detect and count a wider range of NFC tags and NFC inlays, both clear and opaque faced
  • An improved power supply

We analyzed our existing customer preferences and usage data and are pleased to announce the new pricing model will offer lower per-tag costs to customers that utilize the software. It is a major revision of the outdated 4-year-old pricing model, which was purely usage based depending on the number of tags encoded during each billing period. The new model offers our customers a choice of several plans with features suited to all levels of usage.

Customers will be able to pause or resume their subscriptions as well as upgrade or downgrade their plan at any time with pro-rated charges. Existing plans will be available until July 1st, 2017 when previous versions of the Encoder will need updating to the new version and customers will need to subscribe to one of our new plans. The reason the existing plans will no longer be supported is that supporting older generations of plans side by side affects our ability to operate a modern and efficient product and we know we have created a range of plans to suit the encoding needs of all our customers.

For those customers just getting started with NFC and only need to work with a few NFC tags, the GoToTags Windows App is software for you; plus its free!

The new range of plans allows us to tailor the product to better fit the scale of different customer operations and we are confident the new model allows improved service and a better version of NFC Encoder that you’ll love. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

 

Primera & GoToTags to Showcase Printable NFC Stickers at LabelExpo 2016

GoToTags will be showcasing its product line of printable NFC tags alongside Primera Technology’s inkjet printers at LabelExpo 2016 in Chicago. GoToTags printable NFC stickers are for businesses small and large looking to print their own full color, full bleed custom NFC labels. When used with printers such as the Primera LX500 and the Primera LX2000 desktop inkjet printers, it’s now possible for businesses to print their own small runs of NFC enabled labels. The result is higher quality control, lower production times and faster product design iterations. Typical applications include product labels for coffee, wine, water, bakery, confectionary, meat, cheese and hundreds of other specialty and gourmet foods. GoToTags worked with Primera Technology during the product development to ensure the NFC tags met the high quality and ease-of-use requirements that Primera expects for use in their printers. GoToTags printable NFC stickers are available in both sheet and roll formats, and in a selection of popular sizes and shapes. When custom NFC labels are combined with an online tag management and analytics system such as the GoToTags Platform, it allows for even more value to be derived out of the label, as now the label connects the product to its online counterpart for product information, registration and other consumer engagement.

The GoToTags Printable NFC Stickers and certified Primera printers are available for purchase today at the GoToTags Store.

Will you be at LabelExpo 2016? We’d love to talk about NFC. We’ll be at the Primera booth or contact us to arrange a special demo time.

 

 

 

Does the Apple iPhone 7 support NFC Tags?

UPDATE Sept 12th, 2017: Read the new post Finally Read NFC Tags with an iPhone App on iOS 11

Apple just had their annual September big event, this time announcing the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2. So how are they? Depends on where you’re coming from. If you were already an Apple fan, these products are great and represent Apple’s continual iterative push for innovative, useful and beautiful products. If you were already not an Apple fan, then you saw this as the 3rd year of an overhyped, lackluster product announcement with products lagging behind other devices from Google and Samsung. Then there is the issue of removing the headphone jack…

 

Download the GoToTags iPhone App to read NFC tags and scan barcodes!

But does the new iPhone have the NFCs!? (inside joke) The short story is yes, it supports NFC. Yes Apple is expanding what NFC can do but no, it does not yet support reading and writing NFC tags. If you haven’t read our original post on this topic, I suggest you read it first. Here we are six months later and all of our claims still hold true. Now lets take a look ahead. Based on evidence we’re seeing, we expect the following progression to occur.

The big development for NFC is that Apple announced support for FeliCa in Apple Pay. You’ve never heard of FeliCa? You have likely never been to Japan. FeliCa is the dominant mobile payment system in Japan where it is used in most people’s daily routine; transportation, stores, restaurants, web… Think of it as an expanded version of London’s Oyster card, but where you can pay for more things than just public transport. The USA lacks a true corollary; but we’re really just talking about a more efficient way to pay for goods and services. The technical implementation of FeliCa is totally different than “traditional” Apple Pay and EMV; FeliCa stores the value on the card itself vs in the cloud. “I don’t live in Japan, so why is this a big thing?” Because it’s a sign that Apple is expanding what NFC can do in the iPhone. Call me optimistic, but I am looking at it like this; there are only three sets of numbers; 0, 1 and many. Two years ago Apple did not support NFC at all (0), previously Apple supported NFC via Apple Pay (1) and now Apple is adding support for FeliCa (many). It’s not as a big of a leap for Apple to start adding additional uses for NFC within the iPhone; things like NFC tag reading and writing. As we said back in March, the more that consumers learn to trust that they can use their mobile device as a magic wand to interact with the world, the more you will see new deployments of this technology. Companies like Apple will add support to meet that demand.

So how is Apple Pay doing? Great, but a bit slower than they had hoped. Since our original post Apple has expanded Apple Pay throughout Europe, Hong Kong and beyond with a total of 9 major markets. Apple Pay is available at 11+ million locations worldwide and growth is doubling. This fall they are expanding to New Zealand, Russia and more. Apple Pay’s success and continued expansion is pretty amazing considering the number of geographic, cultural and political hurdles to overcome. Remember it’s hard to get people to change their daily behaviors and to trust new ways, especially when it comes to money. Importantly, there still has not been a single security issue with Apple Pay or the NFC hardware in the iPhone. This is all good.

When will Apple support NFC tags though? When they feel the time is right; and by right I mean when they feel that Apple pay has succeeded, consumer’s trust has been earned in contactless interactions and there is enough external pressure. You can’t rush Apple. A lesson learned this summer when a group of Australian banks tried to force Apple to open up access to the NFC controller so they could build their own competitive mobile payment system. Apple quickly shot this down with the argument that it would “diminish security” and that Apple is protecting consumers. This of course is not entirely true, but it takes too many words to understand why not so it’s a beautiful argument. In reality, Apple is using this to block competitors to Apple Pay because there are billions of dollars in profit to be made.

Hope is not lost for the iPhone reading and writing NFC tags though. Without getting too technical, there are multiple components that comprise the NFC system in the iPhone. Part of this is the NFC controller (radio) and part of this is the secure element (bank vault).  For a mobile payment systems to work it needs access to both the NFC controller and the secure element as it needs to securely store data for the financial transaction processing. Functionality such as NFC tag reading and writing does not need access to the secure element, but only access to the NFC controller. This difference is key. Apple will never open up access to the secure element as it would allow for competitors to build other mobile payment systems; Apple will always use the argument of “diminish security” to prevent this. However they can easily open up access to the NFC controller to allow for non-payment use cases. This is what we expect to see happen.

Does this even matter? Depends on how close to Cupertino you live. In the USA where the cult of Apple is stronger, the lack of NFC tag support in the iPhone is a bigger deal. Outside of the USA this isn’t as true. GoToTags has recently expanded to Europe and sees the NFC market as strong and growing. In areas like South America the iPhone is almost irrelevant, with Android dominating the market. GoToTags works everyday with companies worldwide to develop their product strategy for NFC, for both internal and consumer uses of NFC. NFC tags can be found everywhere and are going into everything; without most people even realizing it. NFC is being used for product information in retail, for anti-counterfeiting of products, physical security, assets tracking, gaming and out-of-home marketing; oh.. and mobile payment too. When NFC tags are combined with a management and analytics system such as the GoToTags Platform and other IoT tag technologies, it allows for even more functionality and value to be derived.

Someday Apple will have a big event and tell the world about the other uses for NFC. When that happens the Apple fans will see it as continual innovation at the “right time”, and the non Apple fans will see it as the iPhone finally catching up. Either way, it’s already happening now. The sooner you start planning for it, the more ready you will be for it. We can help.

What do you think? Tell us @gototags

GoToTags Expanding to Europe to Offer NFC Tag Products

As many of you are already aware, there have been some changes in the NFC tag market in Europe recently. For the last several weeks we have been receiving an increasing stream of inquiries from European customers looking for a new provider of NFC tags as their typical UK NFC tag supplier RapidNFC is stopping activity. From looking at their website, the online purchasing is disabled and there has been no activity on their blog or social profiles since the end of January. They were well known in the industry and we wish them the best in their future endeavors.

For European customers looking for NFC tags, don’t worry; GoToTags has always serviced customers globally including Europe. Our headquarters for engineering, sales, support and inventory are in Seattle, USA and we have agents in China. We design our own NFC tag products and have contract factories in China and the US build to our specifications. You will find it straightforward to transition to GoToTags as your supplier for your NFC projects; many customers already successfully have. And we even use the metric system! GoToTags offers a wide selection of blank, ready-made, printable and custom NFC tags as well as NFC software, hardware and online services on our online store.  For custom projects, corporate customers looking to setup on-going relationships, or if you just have any questions please contact our team and we will respond quickly.

Given the void in the Europe NFC tags market, we have decided to accelerate our expansion plans. We are actively looking at expanding our sales and operations into Europe so that we can service customers quickly and efficiently. This will roll out in several phases. We are actively recruiting for European-based sales and support staff to allow for even easier communications. The final step will be an operations center for rapid NFC tag production and fulfillment. If you’re interested in being a part of this expansion; please contact us.

Here at GoToTags we are continuing to see increased awareness, adoption and overall growth in the NFC market. We have several customer projects with 100k+ tags each and many more medium sized projects and prototypes. We’re excited for the future of NFC.

Will Apple support NFC tags in iOS 10 for the iPhone 7?

UPDATE Sept 12th, 2017: Read the new post Finally Read NFC Tags with an iPhone App on iOS 11

It’s spring again and the Apple NFC rumor mill is heating up. In the fall of 2014 Apple added NFC hardware to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to support the Apple Pay mobile payment system. But that was the only thing the iPhone could do with NFC. Since Apple didn’t open up SDK access to the NFC controller for other developers, the NFC hardware inside the phone was severely limited to the types of applications it could be used for. Now its 2016 and Apple is expected to release new iPhone models along with an updated iOS. Will we will finally see support for additional NFC functions on Apple products?

 

Download the GoToTags iPhone App to read NFC tags and scan barcodes!

If you’re savvy with NFC, you know NFC is used for far more than just payments; including marketing, security, asset tracking, events, gaming… the list is long. NFC is one of several tag technologies that allow things in the physical world to be connected with their online counterparts. Other tag technologies include printed barcodes and QR codes, Bluetooth based tags such as Apple’s iBeacon and BLE, UHF RFID and a handful of other lesser known technologies. NFC plays a unique role within this family of technology; it’s low cost compared to most other technologies, is uniquely identifiable, is difficult to be cloned and its very short range captures the consumer’s intention. NFC tags can be deployed on physical items for non-payment uses forming an “Internet of Things”. Mobile payments is just one, very lucrative usage of NFC.

So why hasn’t Apple opened up support for these other uses of NFC? Security and trust. Mobile payments are a big deal. They represent a fundamental change in the way that money flows through the system, from the consumer all the way through the banks and companies. Several large industries are built up to enable this and collect a toll as the money moves. By changing and controlling the existing transaction flow, Apple, and other mobile payment providers hope to route money through their systems and subsequently be the ones to collect the toll. Apple likely negotiated reduced rates from banks on the guarantees of increased security, lower fraud rates and high consumer usage.

There is a lot of on the line for Apple Pay to succeed. Apple knows that to change consumer behavior on this level they must gain and keep the consumer’s trust. A single public security breach would put the entire project in jeopardy. So like the fingerprint scanner before it, Apple is likely limiting access to the NFC controller for an initial period of time. The security industry calls this “reducing the surface area”. This allows the consumers time to become comfortable with NFC and mobile payments and allows Apple time to work out any security issues that come up. From Apple’s perspective the risk of a public security issue in Apple Pay outweighs the benefits of using NFC for other applications.

Apple Pay has been in the market for almost two years without a single public security issue being disclosed. Nice work! Now Apple might be looking towards the future for what else it can do with NFC. Rumors are popping up that Apple could open up the NFC controller to other developers to use.

Will they open it up to everyone, or just other payment companies? Or will they continue to keep NFC closed to increase the usage and momentum of Apple Pay over their competitors’ Android Pay, Samsung Wallet… We don’t know yet. What is clear is that NFC is happening in other verticals besides payments and Apple isn’t clueless about that; they just have other priorities on their mind for the moment. In the meantime we recommend that companies get started now with NFC trials so they understand how to leverage NFC in their business such that they are ready when it does open up. 

What do you think? Tell us @gototags

NFC & EMV: Payment or Painment?

Over the last couple of months I have been using the new Android Pay as well as started to experience increasingly frequent use of credit card EMV payment process during retail purchases. This experience has brought up a thought…….Will the smartcard EMV adoption in the US actually help accelerate phone-based NFC payment use?

Let me explain. I have been using Google Wallet NFC pay for couple years now, at least in the locations supporting this technology. Not the smoothest and most reliable experience, but for a techie it is (when it works!) certainly more convenient, faster and more secure than using mag-stripe card payment. Now that Android Pay replaced Google Wallet, the experience seems to be smoother (when it works!), although in the heterogeneous Android environment you just never know what type of experience your combination of hardware and OS may surprise you with. In any case, Android Pay seems to be an honest effort by Google to get closer to Apple Pay, which is the benchmark for NFC phone payments.

Over the last 6 months  nearly all my payment cards have gotten replaced with the chipped EMV versions. Over the last couple of weeks I have also started to use them in the actual smartcard readers which are now available and enabled at major retailers. I am going to ignore the confusion this transition is causing about when and where you as a customer use the smartcard payment process versus our Pavlovian habit of mag(or mad) stripe swiping. This will wear off as we get used to the new process (eventually….). So I am going to focus on just my personal experience with the EMV card payment process.

After hours of wondering isles and chambers of a retail dungeon, and picking something you want to take home, you finally make it to the checkout, get your $total$, and it is time to pay. You correctly identify this payment will take place in the new mysterious slot, usually on the bottom of the payment terminal and insert your card. Message flashes up with some instructions on the payment terminal. Instinctually, flashing or change on the screen could mean to someone (like me) that what needed to happen, happened, and it is time to yank the card and get out of dodge. Sorry, transaction cancelled. On to Round 2 – repeat inserting but this time you actually have to concentrate on this Minecraft resolution display and read what it actually says, like “while the bla blab la blah blah blah bla, do not take your card out…”. Ahhhhhh, I see what happened. So we stand and wait….. All of a sudden signature window shows up, time to yank the card, sign, and get out of dodge. Sorry, transaction cancelled. Damn it! On to Round 3 – fast forward to signature, but DO NOT touch the card. Sign aaaaaand wait. Wait, wait a little more. And finally again whole bunch of instructions in a Minecraft font telling you that “Bla Bla Bla Blah done Blab la Blah blah  remove your card!” By now what you bought is out of warranty and someone else moved into what used to be your home. I feel secure about my payment, but am ready for assisted living.

Even if you get this routine all correct the first time around, it feels like you are waiting for a home mortgage approval. Today’s consumers, especially in America (me in the top 10) are after convenience (or lazy…). NFC contactless phone payment, when it works, is like the difference between power windows and manual wind down windows.

So maybe EMV finally arriving in North America will be the best thing that ever happened to NFC payment. Someone just needs to teach all the Android smartphone users what it is… Apple has been doing a decent job.

What do you think? Tell us @gototags

-Jan Svoboda

Colordyne and GoToTags to Debut On-Demand NFC Label Printing at Pack Expo 2015

We are announcing and showing off our brand new line of printable NFC stickers at Pack Expo – Las Vegas this year. GoToTags printable NFC tags are designed to be printed in full color by a wide range of print technologies including flexographic, inkjet, Memjet, thermal and others. They are suitable for a variety of applications including commercial printers looking to print high quantities of NFC tags, all they way down to individuals who want to print NFC tags at home. These NFC labels have been designed alongside leading printer manufacturer partners such as Colordyne Technologies, resulting in a high-quality, easy-to-use and lost cost product. GoToTags printable NFC stickers are available in both sheet and roll formats, in a selection of popular sizes and shapes.