The Identity Verification Capabilities of NFC

The Identity Verification Capabilities of NFC

Near-field communication (NFC) capabilities have permeated our everyday lives, almost without us even realising. More and more people are using smarter, more convenient technology to communicate, verify and transact.

With the lines of physical and digital identity becoming increasingly blurred, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your personal and your customers’ information.

Although some feel the nature of this technology may increase the exposure of the user’s identity, here we explore how the opposite is in fact true…

Below is a list of all the topics we will cover in this article. Go ahead and click on any of these links, and you’ll be taken to that specific section.

What is NFC?

NFC stands for near-field communication and it allows phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices to easily share data with other equipped devices. NFC can be used as a means of identity verification on documents and keycards and in contactless payment systems, enabling mobile payment and supplementing systems such as credit cards and electronic ticket smart cards.

NFC capabilities were first used in Star Wars toys in 1997, but they entered the mainstream in 2007 when contactless cards were introduced to the UK by Barclaycard. In 2018, more money was used to transact via card payments than cash payments for the first time as contactless cards overtook Chip and PIN payments. 

While contactless card payments are still the most common use of NFC, the technology has enabled other types of contactless payments, mainly via mobile devices and smartwatches. Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are the biggest mobile wallets currently accepted via NFC or similar technology at terminals around the UK. They are mainly used by the younger generation aged 25-34, though NFC-enabled mobile wallets were estimated to have topped $1 trillion in transactions in 2020.

NFC for Identity Verification

All of today’s smartphones are equipped with NFC capabilities, but the technology can be used for much more than buying a coffee at Starbucks; the 2015 Download Festival was the first contactless event in UK history, where contactless wristbands were introduced to save on queue time. Other technologies classed as contactless include quick-response (QR) codes that require scanning a code with your phone or via stickers and key fobs. But a key area in which these capabilities are being utilised is through identity verification.

Digital identity verification solutions can now scan and capture information contained within chip-enabled identity documents, which are becoming increasingly more common; there are now over 1 billion e-passports in circulation worldwide containing chips that hold the owner’s photograph and personal information.

Traditional forms of ID can easily be forged or digitally manipulated, whereas today’s e-passports offer a number of compelling security features:

  • Intricately designed passport pages, complex watermarks and a data chip.
  • The biometric chip contains all crucial personal information such as digital signature data, which helps in authenticating the passport.
  • The biometrics are considered more reliable than a traditional passport photo or a PIN, as it uses personal traits such as facial and fingerprints as primary identification features.
  • All data stored on an e-passport (including a picture that is stored on the hardcopy of your passport) is encrypted.
  • Security features which make it more difficult to change data recorded on a passport and to prevent unauthorised reading or skimming of data stored on the e-passport chip.

The ability to read the information on chip-enabled identity documents such as e-passports is now in the pocket of every smartphone owner in the world.

How We Can Help

We recently explored how our leading solution for global document verification, iDocufy utilises a global database of over 5,000 forms of government-issued identity documents to accurately assess document authenticity and capture both visual and electronic document data.

When opening an account, a customer is asked to provide a form of ID and the solution takes care of the rest:

  1. Capture – The customer is prompted to take a photo of their document 
  2. Process – Images and data are processed instantly and securely in the cloud
  3. Authenticate – 50+ forensic tests are performed on the credentials in real time
  4. Verify – Optional facial recognition match can be performed using BioMatch

The AI-powered platform analyses the uploaded image to establish the ID information in real-time. iDocufy extracts the information provided and, depending on the type of document used, cross-references this with information from the e-chip scanned via NFC, or using advanced OCR technology extracts the printed PII from the document. Additional facial recognition can also be performed as an extra layer of security, when used in conjunction with BioMatch.

In seconds, iDocufy returns an easy-to-understand set of results, alerts and scores, alongside an overall pass or fail result. 

iDocufy works as a global KYC and AML check and enhances customer confidence due to its speed and seamless integration. When used together with BioMatch as part of our global ID, KYC & AML platform, Sodium, our solutions offer world-class authentication in one simple integration.

Utilise a single element or multiple processes – it’s entirely up to you. Book a demo today and see for yourself how powerful our suite of solutions are.


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