Choosing Between Near Field Communication and RFID Systems

Opening office door with near-field communication ID card.All clubs need a modern security system. Without one, you face numerous issues, including getting people to hand in expired cards, difficulty restricting guests to certain areas, and more. However, it can be a little hard to understand all the nuances of modern card- or phone-based systems. For example, people often ask about the difference between near-field communication and RFID.

What Is RFID?

RFID stands for “Radio frequency identification.” This type of system has a tag and a reader. The reader emits radio waves and receives signals back from the tag. Businesses can use them to identify the tag and transfer data. In a security system, the tag is carried by the person in the form of a card or fob, and the reader is incorporated into the door or gate.

What Is NFC?

NFC, on the other hand, stands for near-field communication. While this is considered a subset of RFID, it works on a different principle: short-range inductive coupling. Two tags create a magnetic field that induces a wireless current. Like RFID, this can be used to identify the tag and transfer data. Again, a person or object carries the tag. NFC has a very short range of no more than four inches.

Both near-field communication and RFID options allow users to swipe the card past the reader. This is unlike traditional magnetic cards, which users have to insert into the reader. They also cannot be “scrambled” by magnetic fields, such as if you put an old-style key card next to your phone. So, which one should you choose? There are advantages to either choice. 

Advantages of RFID

The primary advantage of RFID is range. RFID readers can read tags at a significant distance. For example, you can open a gate without getting out of your car. RFID also has the following advantages:

  1. You don’t need line of sight. This means you don’t have to take your card out of your pocket or wallet when passing through security.
  2. RFID readers can read multiple tags simultaneously. This is helpful when your club is busy and you have people passing in and out quickly.

Advantages of NFC

The biggest advantage of NFC is that any NFC-capable device can become a key. Modern smartphones are all equipped with NFC technology. This is how contactless payments work.

This means that with an NFC system, you can allow members to download a smartphone app instead of carrying a card. This reduces your costs (as you don’t need to make as many cards) and also reduces the risk of a member locking themselves out. There are a couple of other advantages:

  1. Although the short range can slow access because people have to hold their phone or card up to the reader, it also improves security.
  2. NFC uses very little power, saving energy.

However, cards are still useful, especially as not everyone has a smartphone or wants to use it for access. So, which should you use? A lot depends on exactly what your goals are and how the difference between near-field communication and RFID affects those goals. If you have gates that grant 24/7 access to your facility, consider using RFID so people don’t have to lean out of the car to swipe a card.

However, the ability to use smartphones instead of key cards is a massive convenience many of your members may appreciate and can save you money. You should choose a system based on the preferences of your members and the layout of your club.

If you are not sure, contact Card Lock. We can provide a consultation and look at your needs to help you choose the security system that is right for you and your members.

(Proximity) RFID
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