Technologies similar to NFC

NFC is a transmission standard which allows contactless exchange of data via short distances (1-4 cm). However, NFC is often confused with other transmission standards such as RFID, Bluetooth and iBeacon because they all transmit data by radio. Moreover, QR codes and NFC are often mixed up as they can be used for similar purposes. In the following, we clarify the differences between NFC, RFID, Bluetooth, iBeacon and QR codes.


NFC evolved from RFID, so it’s not surprising that both technologies share some characteristics. NFC as well as RFID allow data exchange via radio, but the reach of RFID is multiple times higher. Contrary to RFID the development of NFC was motivated by plans to use this transmission standard in contactless payment systems. Therefore, the smaller reach of NFC isn’t a disadvantage but rather a security feature.

Find out more about the differences between RFID and NFC.

Bluetooth vs NFC

Both Bluetooth and NFC allow transmission of data via radio, but the reach of Bluetooth is much higher. However, Bluetooth was developed for an entirely different purpose. Bluetooth was supposed to enable wireless connection of devices for which a higher reach is necessary. The limited reach of NFC should contribute to the security of contactless payment systems. Meanwhile, several other NFC applications have emerged.

Find out more about the differences between Bluetooth and NFC.

iBeacon vs NFC

Beacons transmit radio signals and are typically used in stores to send passing people push notifications with advertising contents to their smartphones. NFC can also be used for marketing purposes, but in a fundamentally different way. For example, NFC stickers with advertising contents can be attached to posters. However, passing people decide on their own if they are interested and want to retrieve this content by scanning the NFC sticker.

Find out more about the differences between iBeacon and NFC.

QR codes vs NFC

Both QR codes and NFC tags are often attached to posters and can be used to store information like an URL. However, content hidden in QR codes and NFC tags is read in two very different ways. Whereas smartphones establish a radio connection to NFC tags, they decode the patterns of QR codes via an optical scanning process. From a practical point of view, the most important difference is that QR codes are more vulnerable to wear and vandalism.

Find out more about the differences between QR codes and NFC.

Further information

Erstellt: 2017-02-16 / Aktualisiert: 2020-03-10 2017-02-16 2020-03-10