Advantages and Disadvantages of NFC

January 10, 2022

NFC, or near field communication, can be an important part of an identity lifecycle, and is a feature commonly found on smartphones as a method of wireless data transfer. It uses short range wireless RFID technology to detect and enable communication with other nearby devices equipped with NFC functionality. All of this is done automatically without the need of launching an application or having an internet connection. 

NFC technology works by creating a "near field" using high frequencies, spanning a radius of about 10 centimeters. When another NFC chip is detected within this field, it becomes activated and small amounts of data are transferred between the two devices as long as they stay within the same field.

As a contactless technology, an NFC reader is one of the many communication tools used to give instant access to any digital data and information from your mobile phone. With over 80% of smartphones now enabled with NFC, there are many opportunities being explored in how to leverage this technology for improved security and a better customer experience. Initially created to enable contactless mobile payment, NFC also enables mobile identity verification.

NFC-based identity verification uses the NFC capability of a smartphone to read the user’s data from biometric identity documents and validate the identity of a user by authenticating ID document and matching user’s live selfie. It replaces the need for customers to manually enter their data, making the entire process easy and secure with reliable verification results.

When combined with biometric verification, NFC-based identity verification can be used to enhance the online user journey and reduce friction, especially during onboarding. It has the power to help create a high level of trust while at a lower cost and in real-time. All users need is an NFC-enabled ID Document and a smartphone with NFC security capabilities and biometric sensors.

NFC offers a one-two combo for mobile identity verification

The dark web is a huge marketplace for stolen data and personal information that’s used to falsify documents in attempts to surpass identity checks. To reduce the security risk, modern ID documents and passports are equipped with biometric chips according to data security standards. This is the first line of defense in mobile identity verification. These chips contain information contained within the document. However, all the information on the chip is encrypted and digitally signed, so modification is nearly impossible.

Identity verification using information extracted from these document chips is safe, secure, and reliable in detecting identity fraud in real-time. NFC-based identity verification is incredibly accurate because the chip is designed to be read by machines, such as Mitek's NFC authentication solution. It offers a more complete view than the Optical provides PII. 

The second component of NFC’s security stronghold when it comes to identity verification is biometrics. When combined with facial biometric verification, the chip can confirm if the live image captured matches the recorded image. This ensures the user is present remotely, in real-time, at the time of verification.

NFC-based identity verification is the latest and greatest in security advances, but like with any technology, understanding how it plays within your business structures and processes is the first step to deciding if this is the right solution for your customer journey. 

We’ll take you through the pros and cons of remote NFC-based identity verification, how companies are using this technology in their onboarding infrastructure, and where the future is headed.

Benefits of NFC security for identity verification

NFC-based identity verification provides a wide range of benefits to consumers and businesses, including:

  • Ease of use that boosts customer acquisition: NFC transactions are incredibly fast and easy. To conduct a NFC transaction, all that’s required by a user is to tap their smartphone with another NFC-enabled device. The deterministic, intuitive user experience speeds up transactions and the customer validation process while reducing manual errors, and boosting efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  • Fraud prevention: NFC has the ability to detect forged documents and fraudsters in real-time, reducing the potential of fraudsters entering into your systems and wreaking havoc.
  • Strong security: Biometric identity documents and data can be read directly from NFC chip-containing passports and ID documents. Customers can be securely onboarded by validating all the data within it.
  • Reducing manual errors: NFC technology replaces the need for manual data entry, removing the risk of human errors.

Disadvantages of NFC technology for identity verification

Despite increased security, speed, and convenience, there are a few factors to be aware of when it comes to NFC-enabled identity verification, including.

  • High cost: With NFC-enabled biometrics being relatively newer technology, the cost to own a smartphone with the necessary technology is still quite high for many customers. For the time being, the introduction of NFC readers is likely to be limited to wealthier markets.
  • US adoption is lagging: Banks in the United States are lagging behind in adopting NFC technology for identity verification. Few of the major players have adopted biometrics to a significant degree, with the market preferring to wait for a first mover to legitimize the technology, according to a report by Accenture.
  • Using only NFC for identity verification can cause added friction: Identity verification where NFC is the only option could prevent actual customers from signing in. In addition, having only one method of authentication versus a multi-factor authentication approach could allow knowledgeable fraudsters to deliberately fail. NFC instead should be used in combination with biometrics and a document fallback option.

                                                                                                           Learn more about NFC authentication

Should You Use NFC Technology for Identity Verification?

The last year has brought new technological innovations in the digital world that enables businesses and their customers to skip the administrative hurdles of paper-based systems for more convenient and quicker digital verification infrastructures. 

Mobile onboarding is becoming the most relied upon solution in the identity verification market due to its capability to enhance the customer experience while allowing businesses to verify and onboard legitimate users in real-time with reduced operational costs.

NFC verification makes it easier for consumers to conduct online activities and experience a good user interface while enabling companies to conform to increasing compliance and security regulations.

Mitek’s NFC authentication solution is ideal for organizations looking to provide a more secure and efficient customer experience while outsmarting fraudsters as they become more sophisticated in their attacks. Consider the pros and cons for your organization if adding an additional layer of protection with NFC identity verification. To learn more about the technology, and understand what your company needs to introduce it, check out this video.