New Life For NFC: How A Resurgence Created A Path For NFT-Enabled Products

September 8, 2022

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Notature

If NFC or Near-Field Communication doesn’t ring a bell, that’s ok because you’ve most likely used it at some point without realizing.

Have you made payments at the store with a wave of your phone? Have you ever used your credit card’s “tap-to-pay” function?

Have you ever wondered how your hotel card, which is seemingly identical to everyone else's, magically works to only open your door? 

phone reading an NFC tag

What is NFC?

NFC is an evolution of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) with the main difference being the range of transmission. NFC has a much shorter range for devices to communicate for more secure transmission between two devices. NFC technology allows data to be programmed into a small chip and read by NFC-enabled devices—like smartphones. 

From secure payment transactions to business cards that can be tapped to access contact information, the range of NFC applications is broad but there is another use-case for this known technology that can serve as a bridge into Web3. 

A New use for NFC 

NFC has been an important technology that has enabled people to efficiently initiate day-to-day activities but its potential specialized applications extends beyond it current uses. Today, the evolution of this technology can offer a greater utility by serving as a secure connection to a Non-Fungible Tokens on the blockchain.  

What would your relationship to a product look like if you had instant access to its history of movement, ownership provenance and other product information?

What if you could securely prove authenticity and possession in a peer to peer transaction without third-party authenticators? 

We will explore how these special Smart tags are being used in new ways that actualize the potential of NFT-enabled products and how they could change the way we interact with items around us. Most NFC tags are static, a few are what we call, encrypted dynamic authenticators.

To authenticate physical items, every time you do so you always have to ask it “Are you an authentic item?”. This simple idea shows that you need a dynamic engagement built in to any device that has the ability to be an authenticator….think Google Authenticator or the verifying 5- or 6- digit number sent to your phone. 

[Read: Same World, Better Products: “Phygital Assets” and the NFT Revolution]

illustration showing that Phygital assets are powered by NFC & NFT

A New Wave of Utility 

The current use for NFT utilities operate within the range of a NFT project itself. For example, NFT holders of certain projects may have voting rights to decide the direction of the project, can have access to in-real-life events, stake their NFTs to make additional returns on investment and other privileges that are only contained within the NFT project.

What does the utility of an NFT look like outside of the digital world and implemented into the physical one? Our encrypted SmartSeal Smart tags are linked to an NFT that is then embedded into a physical product to create an NFT-enabled product. This tag provides the encrypted connection from the blockchain to the physical to make the product experience more streamlined and engaging.   

Exposure and education is the obvious answer when it comes to learning about anything new in the market. We need to see it enough to build trust at a psychological level, enmasse, and then have enough of an understanding to feel excited about it. In order to ease into that state, it is necessary to meet people where they are with what they already know. The Smart Tags serve as that gateway into NFTs and the blockchain which overall provides streamlined experience to people with their products.  

[Read: Building in the Cold: Cultivating Utility in a Crypto Winter]

The convenience of accessing a product's information the way you can tap your card or phone to make a purchase makes for a frictionless experience that allows for the instant access of information. Although NFT-enabled products are a new concept that is currently nuanced, it shows promising results that are rapidly becoming adopted by brands and builders that merge the convenience of online marketplaces with the innate experience of retail to create a new relationship with products that have a range of utilities. 

The only tool that is needed to access this information and initiate certain functions is an NFC-enabled device aka your smartphone. This makes the experience seamless as there is already a plethora of functions that smartphones are capable of and to further unlock the NFC capabilities to access the blockchain will simply be another one that people can incorporate with products. This is where NFC meets NFTs to create this new experience with products that are connected to the blockchain for the most secure and accurate information possible without the need for intermediaries.   

Renaissance for consumers 

March 2020 became the year that changed our perspective marking a massive shift in the way we engage with a lot of technology. To begin the transition towards this innovative leap, consumers need a simple way to engage with these advances without being overwhelmed by the complexities within blockchain technology. 

During the pandemic our relationship with a lot of our surroundings where themed around being “contactless.” This was widely seen in the retail and restaurant space where adjustments had to be made because of social distancing. It is commonly assumed that customers have a smartphone which serves as a tool to access certain information if they are are in a physical area like a store or a restaurant.

QR codes have nearly replaced menus in restaurants, and by adapting to the times, many inadvertently showed signs of innovation with substituting physical menus entirely. Still, people had to take the steps to open their cameras and properly capture the code before they could be properly redirected to the website. Now as for the restaurants that took it a step further by embedding menus in an NFC tag, with instructions to simply tap with a phone, no need to open your camera or click a link. Even though this comparative medium has a tiny learning curve, it became more easily adopted.

This is only a precursor for how people will interact with products when they want to access certain information like the product's origin, who it belongs to, proof that it comes from the brand/company/manufacturer, and any content that expands the engagement with the product. 

Areas to scan an NFC tag with your phone

Phygital Future 

To support phygital product adoption there needs to be a concerted effort of innovation from brands, creators and manufacturers who will invest into the resiliency of their physical product roadmap. This could then leads customers to faster and wider adoption of NFT utility in their daily lives, modernize the product experience, and opens a 2-way communication channel. 

This starts with the new way of marketing in the NFT space which puts the community in the middle of the flywheel. Physical commodities that are cheaply made overseas may not need to be connected to the blockchain, but depending on the brand and community you plan to cultivate some of those commodities can transform into phygital assets whose value is predicated on fan engagement. 

[Read: 6 Ways NFT-Enabled Products Increases Buyer Confidence]

This is a game-changer on how people can directly engage with products in the real world, and serves as a portal to Web3 and the blockchain ecosystem. The new possibilities customers can encounter with the freedom NFTs provide when linked to a product will truly be a novel experience. Due to the frictionless and secure partnership between the existing technology of NFC and the newly emerged technology of NFTs, the revolution of product experience is possible right now. 

Notature is a SmartSeal Product. To enable your physical products, contact us here.

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