How to use Near Field Communication (NFC) for Business


Editor’s Note: Here’s a recent video interview with Geoff of RIM NFC Product Management. Check it out to learn more about how BlackBerry is changing the landscape of mobile interaction with Near Field Communication:

[ YouTube link for mobile viewing ]

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is on the rise in the mobile space, providing exciting new ways to share information, make mobile payments, and interact with your surroundings. Of the new BlackBerry® 7 OS smartphones, the BlackBerry® Bold™ 9900/9930 smartphones and BlackBerry® Curve™ 9350/9360/9370 smartphones contain built-in NFC capabilities. Being the device and technology lover that I am, I had to ask the question: How can this budding mobile technology be used for business? To find answers, I started with our NFC team to get a breakdown of how BlackBerry devices can use this capability.

NFC antenna

As pictured above, the NFC antenna is located in the battery door of your BlackBerry smartphone, allowing you to simply tap an NFC smart tag to instantly read or write the data. Smart tags can be located anywhere, such as on an advertisement, movie poster, or in a business card. Blank smart tags can be ordered from third party vendors and written with information using the BlackBerry Smart Tags application that comes preloaded on the NFC-supported BlackBerry 7 smartphones. While I had known that my BlackBerry Bold 9900 smartphone had NFC technology enabled, it was amazing to realize that my smartphone can both read and write these smart tags with my own customized information.

Smart Tags Application

Smart Tags

The Smart Tags application for BlackBerry smartphones contains an intuitive interface for managing all of your tags. To create a tag, simply press the menu button and select “Create Tag”. At this point, you’ll see form fields to fill in the title and URL. NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones can read information not only from smart tags, but also from other smartphones.

Now that I had the full scoop on what the technology is and what it can do, I switched my focus to how you in the business community could make use of it for enhanced productivity, improved CRM, and more. So, how exactly can NFC be used for business? I can think of at least few ways:

Sharing Information Using NFC

BlackBerry Tag will soon allow the sharing of documents, URLs, photos and more via a simple tap of two NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones. Additionally, you’ll be able to invite a friend to BBM™ (BBM 6.1+ required) using this technology, and create seamless Bluetooth® pairing for file transfers. The solution is designed to be secure and intuitive – stay tuned for further details on the Inside BlackBerry Blog.

Mobile Payment

A very exciting aspect of NFC technology, when coupled with BlackBerry security standards, is the ability to pay using your smartphone. Recently, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Curve 9360 became the world’s first SIM-based smartphones to receive MasterCard® PayPass® handset certification! Clearly there are convenient times ahead when you may be able to leave your wallet at home.


I believe that we’ll start to see NFC-enabled advertisements that allow real interaction with users, and a transfer of the experience to their mobile devices. Imagine, for example, a user tapping on an advertisement poster on the street and being able to purchase tickets to an event or browse reviews of products, all on the go. Capturing the attention of customers – as well as finding opportunities to engage with them – needs to happen very quickly when it comes to advertising and marketing. An instant and seamless technology like NFC allows this to occur at lightning speed in comparison to many other avenues of customer interaction and user experience. Lastly, this technology can augment existing promotions and campaigns to extend their reach and increase conversion.

Product Information

As I mentioned above, NFC allows individuals to access information about products with a single tap of their BlackBerry smartphone. In industries where physical products are present, such as retail, this can provide a brand new flow of specific information for customers, such as ratings and reviews, sharing through social media, and feedback mechanisms. The same concept applies to B2B where your business clients can enjoy the same access. For example, a printed invoice could include NFC technology that would allow customers to tap and pay securely with a BlackBerry smartphone.

NFC technology truly is inspiring and the use cases are limitless. Not only is this a new technology for BlackBerry users and businesses to take advantage of, it also holds the potential to fundamentally impact the interactions that take place through the sales funnel, between products and individuals, in business networking and interaction, and even internal applications.

For those looking for blank/writeable smart tags, a quick search online provides a host of options and pricing. NFC technology may not be enabled for all carriers, so please check with your service provider for availability.

Can you imagine a creative use case for NFC technology? Share your favorite!*

Related Posts and Resources:

* By posting a comment below you acknowledge that you have read and accept these terms and conditions and that any ideas you post will be the property of RIM in accordance with the terms and conditions.

About Luke Reimer

@Luke_Reimer is a Senior Marketing Manager at BlackBerry helping to design, launch, and manage enterprise marketing programs - particularly concerning content across digital mediums. Beyond spreading BlackBerry goodness in enterprise communities, you can find Luke cooking up a storm, out on his motorcycle (when Canadian weather allows), or digging into a good science fiction book.

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