Innovative technologies transform our world. The progress started with a wheel a long time ago is continued with wireless gadgets and space travels now. Contactless data transfers (NFC) and decentralized systems (blockchain) are the most famous among recent inventions.
Let’s explore potential approaches to integrating these technologies, their benefits, and real use cases.
Let’s start with the very basics. This abbreviation stands for near-field communication. It means that this technology allows for wireless data transfers without the Internet connection. Devices with NFC support pair with each other using radio waves, so the distance between them should be really small – less than 4 cm. You are probably familiar with this tech thanks to contactless bank cards with chips or services like Apple Pay.
Smart cards are just a physical adoption of the NFC technology. They are contactless chip-based plastic cards based on near-field communication. They may differ in sizes or design. It’s even possible to install a chip in an item of clothing or jewelry to turn them into hi-tech devices which allow wireless authorization, identification, and data storing.
Blockchain is a decentralized network consisting of nodes aka computers which store information. These pieces or blocks are encrypted and securely connected with each other. Additionally, each node stores the same copy of the entire chain, so that the system can hardly be hacked.
Nearly every modern industry can benefit from blockchain application. It works without intermediaries: users can send and receive data directly, anonymously, and with lower fees compared to centralized systems. People mostly focus on topical cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum which are the most prominent examples of blockchain implementation. But there are much more opportunities this technology can provide.
The traditional implementation of NFC and blockchain is wide-known. The former is suitable for contactless payments with cards or smartphones, for keyless access to certain areas with a high level of security, and for new-age types of tickets. Blockchain is famous for serving as a basis for innovative payment methods, data transfers, and applications development.
There are also ideas which combine near-field communication and blockchain. How they can empower each other and why we should take into consideration their potential cooperation?
- Links between digital and physical. While blockchain stands for digital-only systems, NFC is applicable to real devices. This way, developers can blur the border between two worlds and facilitate the usage of both technologies.
- Better security and privacy. NFC smart cards are similar to hardware wallets when it comes to storing keys. Chips can keep different private addresses (they are like passwords) offline and separate from public keys (they are like email names).
- Way higher convenience. Again, hardware wallets aren’t the most convenient devices. Instead, NFC chips may be installed in almost anything and even under the skin. Additionally, these cards allow new authentication ways like biometrics.
- Increased scalability on all levels. It’s well-known that blockchain apps face a few problems including the most significant ones like high processing speed and also high fees. NFC is to solve these issues by launching smart cards.
1. Money storages
It’s the most obvious way of connecting near-field communication smart cards and blockchain. Both technologies are successfully integrated into finances, so why not to bring them together? The NFC-based crypto wallet is a pretty simple idea which may facilitate real-world payments with cryptocurrencies.
One of the examples of this device is BCMY Wallet – a decentralized mobile storage for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum. Unlike traditional crypto wallets which allow transferring only via the Internet, smart cards linked to the accounts can be used anywhere NFC is supported.
2. Supply chains
Existing supply chains and the entire industry of delivery suffer from trust issues. Providers, carriers, customers, and various middlemen risk their products and money, as everything lays on their trust to each other. Blockchain is a great tool that can create transparent ecosystems, while NFC smart cards can make them more practical.
A startup called Chronicled launched Cryptoseal, a small thin strip with the integrated NFC chip which stores information about a product. Providers can order strips of different sizes and modify metadata. Cryptoseals are attached to all items, so any further part of the supply process can check the information stored in blockchain.
NFC is great for real-world usage related to identification. Charities sometimes fall victims of frauds, especially when it comes to global programs: originations have to trust various third parties like local authorities.
Devices developed by BANKEX are a bright example of a social-oriented project. The company focuses on the worldwide charity program aimed to provide fresh water to everybody. NFC-based devices should be granted to participants. They store personal ID and connect to Ethereums’ smart contracts to maintain the water delivery.
As you can see, NFC smart cards are useful when combined with blockchain. Some industries have limited ways of blockchain adoption because of the digital nature of this technology. However, with the near-field communication, decentralized systems get a wider access to the reality. Developers should probably start with NFC crypto wallets and proceed to more global projects like blockchain-based products’ identification or charities