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Apple Pay and Near Field Communication (NFC)

in Cell Phone, Technology

Until a few days ago NFC, meant National Football Conference to me, but after a little research I learned it also means Near Field Communication, (and Apple’s announcement of Apple Pay)  and it is an exploding field in the Financial and Telecommunication world. You most likely already have Smartcards with “tap” capabilities but more is coming (real soon now).

Apple Pay

An Interesting Product Name and so easily mocked.

Apple’s announcement of  Apple Pay™ as part of the iPhone 6.0, so you can use your phone to “tap and pay” (you don’t even need your wallet any more just wander around with your phone), may be a “game changer” in terms of either payment systems or Smartphones (not sure which). Currently you can use your phone to “pay” but it typically uses the “scanner” capability (i.e. throw up a bar code or scatter code on the smartphone screen, and scan it), will folks adopt this new payment system? Given Apple’s ability to market things, my guess is yes, all the Hipsters will be flocking to using Apple Pay™.

The Disney store is adding payment machines that allow you to pay “on the fly” with your NFC-capable payment thing-a-ma-bob, so you can take your trendy iPhone 6.0 and buy some Disney stuff, Yea!!

Isn’t this a wonderful world we live in? Um, no, not for an old grizzled tech geek like me. All I see with this is yet another way to either:

  • Impulse spend without having to think about the consequences (the battle cry of the hipster, cappuccino sipping generation)
  • Another possible security breach that can empty my bank account (or at least put a dent in it)

If you read the Wikipedia page you will see a nice line that states:

Although the communication range of NFC is limited to a few centimeters, NFC alone does not ensure secure communications.

That is one of the kickers to watch. There are lots of really nifty security stuff built into this technology (I am not a complete Luddite, I do realize folks do try to be secure in these products, I just don’t think they do enough), but it is still susceptible to a few common lines of attack, from those desperadoes out there trying to steal your money (without having to have a gun, or even seeing you). Look up “man in the middle attacks” on Google, for a good example.

The peril of losing your phone now is much more severe as well, and equally important, is to have a good password on your phone (so that folks can’t easily borrow it to pay for things).


  • bigcajunman September 11, 2014, 7:14 PM

    But this is Apple they do a great job with security, think of all those pictures that they keep safe in the cloud… oh.. hmm… never mind.

  • schultzter September 11, 2014, 4:05 PM

    I was one of the early adopters of RBC mobile wallet on Android phones. I was lucky enough to have the right bank (RBC), service provider (Bell), and phone (Galaxy S3). It’s getting easier to get lucky, but it’s still not available to everyone. In the case of the iPhone I wouldn’t expect it to be immediately available to Canadians.

    Overall the experience was everything they promised. Simply open the app, open the wallet, select which card to use, enter my PIN (I have a password on my phone too, but that of course is up to you), and wave it over the payment terminal.

    It really was a smooth process and worked perfectly. Security was never a concern, in fact I felt more secure than with my physical card.

    I did have a few non-technical issues though:

    1. A lot of cashiers are luddities and while they will happily chat for 10 minutes with customer digging for exact change, they looked at me like I was ruining their day by trying something new.

    2. NFC terminals are not that widely available and it’s not a priority. Even the RBC ATM’s don’t support NFC yet. So the “leave your wallet at home” promise is a long way off – not to mention all the other things in my wallet (cash, photos, drivers license, etc.).

    Aside: I use the Stocard app for all my loyalty cards (I still carry Aeroplan and Air Miles for pay-at-the-pump gas stations), which put up a bar code for the cashier to scan.

    3. The payments I made via NFC were coded under a different, virtual, card number. Which means there were on a separate section of my monthly statement. The first month I was bewildered as to why a whole bunch of purchases weren’t included on my statement until I realised there was a second statement on the next page. Even once I knew that it was pain to not have everything more-or-less chronological but rather split up in two.

    For now, I’m happy the banks are implementing the technology but I’m not convinced it’s ready for prime time yet.

    • bigcajunman September 11, 2014, 4:31 PM

      Thanks for the analysis, well put 👍 🔝


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