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In the last two articles, we have collected some questions about RFID and RFID chips from our readers. Today, we will continue to expound more about RFID, EMV, and NFC. To start us off, we shall define these three technologies.

What is RFID, EMV and NFC?

What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This technology makes identification possible using radio waves. RFID cards incorporate a chip and an antenna for wireless communication and can thus be read remotely. The advantage of RFID is convenience. You do not have to remove your card from your wallet in order to pay. Paying is easier and takes lesser time. The radio waves do not penetrate through metal. This section has been explained in greater detail in the previous two articles; you can have a look if you wish to access more information.

What is EMV?

The letters EMV come from the original initiators of this technology – Europay, MasterCard, and VISA. EMV technology operates on the basis of a chip and makes the sensitive magnetic superfluous. The exchange comes about when you insert the card into a device; physical contact is required between the chip and the device.

Chip and Signature vs. Chip and PIN

There are two different implementations of EMV technology: One is called Chip and Signature, while the other is called Chip and PIN. The vast majority of EMV cards issued in the United States use Chip and Signature, which (as the name implies) still requires a signature at the point of sale (when the card is present). Chip and PIN cards are compatible with terminals that require a PIN number, which is often the case at unattended kiosks in Europe and elsewhere. Locations that require Chip and PIN equipped cards include train stations, toll booths, and gas stations.

Why is EMV so Important?

The reason is security. In the aftermath of so many high profile security breaches at major retailers, the recent move to EMV enabled cards can’t come soon enough. When a retailer is hacked, or when credit card numbers are stolen by other means, criminals can easily encode this information onto another credit card’s magnetic strip, a process called cloning. And one of the easiest ways to acquire credit card numbers is to use a magnetic card reader, either when your card is out of your hands, or by affixing a card reading device to a gas pump or ATM, a process called skimming. With the EMV chip system, skimming and cloning cards become vastly more difficult (though not impossible).

Near Field Communication or NFC is a wireless method of communication. NFC is a set of standards for portable devices. It allows them to establish peer-to-peer radio communications, passing data from one device to another by touching them or putting them very close together.  NFC generally has a range of about 10 centimeters. NFC is also viewed as an extension of radio frequency identification (RFID). The technical principle of NFC cards is, as far as we can tell, identical to that of RFID cards.

NFC was formed out of RFID. RFID. Radio-frequency identification, is the technology used by shipping companies, in large warehouses, and in superstores to keep track of goods. It uses electromagnetic induction in order to transmit information over a short space so that by simply scanning a container a staff member can know what it contains. NFC is similar technology, but standardized for consumer smartphones. NFC standards are defined by a group called the NFC Forum, which includes Nokia, Sony, and Philips. In essence, if your phone has NFC as a feature it can be used to transfer data to other phones or to NFC readers.

Is EMV The Same As RFID?

Nope.An RFID card transmits credit card information through radio waves from a chip embedded in your card. If you are using a card with an RFID chip, and your merchant has a compatible reader, you don’t have to swipe your card when making a purchase. You just hold your card inches from the scanner and voila! Your sale is transmitted. But the EMV chip requires contact.

Is RFID and NFC the same?

NFC is used in contactless payment cardsthough somewhat confusingly, these cards are often referred to as RFID cards.

“RFID is a similar chip type product that sends a signal out — a radio frequency signal,” Givens says.

RFID is actually the predecessor to NFC and a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to identify people or objects. It also refers to the long-range communication technology that’s used in, for example, highway toll payment devices.

NFC, on its part, is a type of RFID that requires you to be within inches of the card reader, so fraudsters cannot skim your information easily. Still, as the use of NFC-enabled mobile payments grows, even as contactless payment cards keep being phased out.

Even as our cards get more sophisticated and harder to duplicate, Givens warns they’re still vulnerable to hackers when you shop online — and that’s the next obstacle credit card companies are working on.

Can NFC be used as RFID?

Most of the NFC enabled Android phones have the low-level capacity to emulate cards. The NXP chip is used in the phones as well as the android kernel supports card emulation. However, the high-level Android API does not expose these features most likely because of some obvious security problems with such a feature. To be able to read existing cards and emulate them would make it possible to easily duplicate access cards and other RFID/NFC tags and even some smart cards. This is already possible with the right equipment but to put that capability in the hands of every person with an Android phone might upset entire industries. For example, all physical access control systems rely on cards that could easily be duplicated by using an android phone. I think this feature shouldn’t be there because enabling it would cause a HUGE upset in multiple industries.

Do EMV cards use RFID?

Nope. EMV chip requires contact. Maybe your bank decided to use both technologies and your card has NFC also, but it is just the same: there is no risk in the information you can gather with a NFC scanner. It’s equivalent to physically looking at your card.

You might want to have a blocking wallet if your card is EMV+NFC. A “simple” EMV card is not legible remotely, and only needs to be inserted in a card reader.

If your card is EMV *plus* NFC it might be readable remotely, meaning in this case by touching it (maybe 1-2 centimeters). You must consider if it is feasible that someone touches your card or checkbook wallet with an NFC reader/mobile phone without you noticing.

Anyway, the information that it can be obtained will be, most probably, very limited. EMV chip hosts the really important data and transaction abilities, e.g., your PIN or the signature functionality.

What info you can obtain varies, in my experience, with the actual implementation of the card. I’ve seen, from a list of latest transactions, with amount of money, date… to just info about the hardware and data coding.

What’s the Difference between EMV and NFC?

The two buzzwords (or rather acronyms) you’ll hear consistently in discussions about chip credit cards and phone payments are EMV and NFC. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, Visa, and is a security standard for the chips embedded in credit cards vs the magnetic strip. NFC stands for near-field communications and is the technology that allows data to be read by compatible machines without contact.

Although NFC is most often associated with mobile phone payments and EMV is most often associated with chipped cards, both technologies can actually be used in both payment options. The NFC chip in mobile phones can also be used for contactless chip cards, and the encryption that protects payment information on both is the EMV standard.

Many newer terminals can now accept both NFC and EMV payments, but it’s important to note that some machines only take one or the other. Square, for example, has a mobile credit card reader that accepts magnetic stripe cards and EMV cards, but not NFC payments. (An NFC/EMV reader is available, but it doesn’t take traditional magnetic stripe cards.)

Both EMV and NFC payment methods are more secure than an unencrypted magnetic strip, but only EMV cards are subject to the fraud liability shift that went into effect in October of 2015. Businesses that don’t have an EMV compliant machine are liable for fraudulent transactions made with EMV chip cards. There are currently no repercussions for not accepting NFC payments like Apple Pay.

After reading these, something about RFID, EMV and NFC you must have a good understanding. Hope it help you and if you like it, please share it with your friends.Thanks!


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