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NFC Overview

What is NFC?

NFC stands for Nearfield communication and is a technology that is most commonly used to make “chip” payments using a credit card. If you’ve ever tapped your credit card on a chip enabled credit card reader as you’re paying for groceries, or buying your morning coffee, then you’re already familiar with NFC.

Passports are also equipped with this technology - the chip itself is called an RFID chip (RFID stands for radio frequency identification) and is what enables the NFC technology to work. In the US, all Passports have been enabled with an RFID chip since 2006. The information that is stored on the chip itself includes the PII displayed on the informational page of the passport:

  • Name
  • DOB
  • Place of Birth
  • Date of Issuance
  • Expiration Date
  • Biometric identifier (digital image of the passport photograph which helps with facial recognition at points of entry while traveling)
  • and more

This feature is largely used to help travelers with automated identity verification, faster passage through immigration inspects and also allows for greater boarder protections and security because it helps prevent Passport fraud. The Passport feature was designed to increase security for travel and has been legislated by U.S. congress as required in all Passports to help with this increase in security.

Persona has now enabled this technology for IDV purposes, so that users who are trying to identify themselves using their Passport and who have an NFC enabled smart device, can easily just tap their Passport for successful verification. Once the user taps their Passport on their device, an image will become visible to the user and all information associated with the Passport for review. They can then submit the image as an acceptable form of identity verification and continue through the rest of the flow.

Why offer NFC?

There are several reasons NFC technology is relevant and beneficial to both the end user, and the organization offering the service as part of identity verification.

For the organization:

  • Increased security and fraud prevention - Passport fraud is a notoriously difficult problem to solve in the IDV industry as a whole. As Passports have very few visual details to detect, they becoming easier to forge. Using NFC enabled technology, it is easier to prevent fraud because the user will error out if the RFID chip is not readable using NFC technology - this is usually a very good sign of fraud.
  • Higher conversion rates - because this solution makes it so easy for users to get through the flow, organizations leveraging this feature will benefit from higher conversion, and lower drop off

For the end user:

  • Streamlined and faster verification - with just a simple tap and quick review, users can get through IDV flows faster and easier, without having to make multiple attempts to take a high enough quality photo for successful verification

Who is NFC most relevant to?

NFC technology is most relevant to the organizations who accept Passports across their user base as a form of identity verification.

It is also relevant to organizations who are integrated with mobile, or have an app that is largely used on the phone given that this technology is only available for NFC compatible devices.

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