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What are NFC mobile payments and how do they work

Persona paying with NFC using smartphone

These days, when we buy something at the gas station, hair salon, or grocery store, most of us avoid cash. Instead, according to a recent Mastercard® study, 80% of Americans use other ways to pay including contactless cards and mobile wallets like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™.

Are these types of payments safe? And how do these payment platforms work? Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through what you need to to know. At Asurion, we care about you, your tech, and your digital security. Here’s our guide to NFC mobile payments, and the technology that drives them. 

What's NFC?

NFC stands for near field communication, and it’s a form of wireless technology that’s similar to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but with a shorter range. NFC allows devices like a mobile phone and a payment terminal or credit card reader, to securely transfer data—typically financial information—when they’re within 2 inches of each other. 

When you pay for your haircut or groceries by tapping or waving a chip card or phone over a contactless payment terminal, that’s an NFC mobile payment.   

Benefits of NFC mobile payments

Looking for an easy, secure, and convenient way to pay or process payments? Here are a few reasons an NFC-enabled credit card—or NFC mobile payments—might be right for you. 

Higher level of security

Have security concerns about NFC technology? Well, contactless payment options using NFC offer better security features than ordinary credit cards. With this payment technology, it’s highly unlikely that anyone could steal your credit card or bank account information because the data is encrypted. Mobile payment apps create a temporary card number for each transaction, so credit card readers never access your information directly. And because NFC payments involve devices that are physically close together, that prevents a hacker from intercepting your data remotely. Plus, digital wallets use an extra layer of security by requiring you to use a passcode or fingerprint to pay.

Faster service

Checkout is faster without physical cards or receipts. In fact, according to the recent Mastercard study, NFC mobile payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person purchases, and offer a better customer experience. 


There’s no need to fumble for your wallet or purse for cash or credit cards. Most of us keep our mobile devices close at all times, so it’s convenient to grab your cell phone, place it over the payment device, and pay instantly. 


If you clean your phone regularly, which you should, NFC mobile payments are the most sanitary way to pay: no dirty money, grimy signature touchpads, or contact with the cashier. 

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How to make NFC mobile payments 

If the business you’re buying something from has set up an NFC-enabled reader, you can make a mobile payment. On your end, you’ll need to make sure your digital wallet app is set up before you pay. Here are two mobile wallet apps you can use:

Apple Pay

Most Apple® devices come with the Apple Wallet app. To set it up on your iPhone® follow these steps:

  1. Open the Wallet app. 
  2. Tap the plus (+) sign in the upper-right corner. 
  3. Choose the type of card you’re uploading: Debit or Credit Card
  4. Tap Continue
  5. Follow the instructions to secure your Apple Pay app, and add your debit or credit card information. 

Google Pay

Here’s how to set up Google Pay™ (formerly known as Android Pay™) on Android™ phones running Android 5.0 or a newer operating system: 

  1. Download the Google Pay app. 
  2. Enter your phone number. 
  3. Sign in with your Google Account. 
  4. Follow the instructions to secure your Google Pay app and add a bank account, debit, or credit card  to your Android device. 

Want to make sure your mobile wallet is as secure as possible? Check out our guide to payment apps and privacy.

Tried these steps and still need help? We got you. Get your tech problem solved when you call or chat with an expert now.

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*

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