Today, RFID andNFC are two terms that are opposed. However, it is important to know that these two terms belong to the same family. Indeed, NFC belongs to the RFID family and what is more commonly known as RFID is actually UHF. Let's decipher this for you.

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Home  >RFID vs NFC : What are the differences ? 



The history of NFC

The term RFID, which stands for Radio Frequency Identification, was first coined during the second world war. Indeed, this technology is directly linked to the development of radio and radar.

The first patent for the technology was granted in the late 1960s and in the 1970s the technology was used mainly in the military field. It was not until the 1980s that RFID made its appearance in the private sector. At that time, these chips where mainly used for livestock.
The miniaturisation of RFID technology by IBM in the 1990s led to a wider use of the RFID system, and this is still the case today.

What about NFC ?

NFC  stands for Near Field Communication. This technology is part of the RFID family, was developed between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s. 
This  technology allows data transfer between two terminals (two smartphones, a smartphone and a receiver, ect.) in the same way as Bluetooth. These two terminals will be able exchange date at fairly close distance (from 1.5 cm to 12 cm depending on the tag model) but, above all, very quickly, since the transfer takes place in less than a second.

Today, the best-known use of NFC technology is contactless payment, where a bank card equipped with NFC technology will transfer its data to the payment terminal.


RFID remains the most widespread and well-known technology on the market today. It offer a fairly wide range of action by retrieving data contained in RFID tags from fairly large distances. This will allow you to quickly find out what items are present within a given radius, and thus be able to make an inventory of stocks, for example in a warehouse. 

NFC, on the other hand, will allow many other functions. Being a derivative of RFID, NFC will allow the retrieval of data contained in NFC tags but at much shorter distances. This will allow much more accurate measurement of certain data and will be one of the strengths of NFC. In addition, the frequency range of NFC is not the same as that of RFID. RFID will operate at high frequency around 900 MHz using the electrical component of the radio wave whereas NFC will use the magnetic component of the radio wave operating at a frequency of 13.56 MHz. This will mean that NFC will work through liquids where RFID will be very limited. Metal will not work well with RFID where NFC will be much more tolerant. 




Industry + Retail 

Uniquely identify a product                                                             ​                                                    

Locating a product on a shelf                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Inventory of products on the shelves                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Embed a URL in the tag                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Control out-of-stock situations                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Ensure product traceability                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Control of all stocks (not only the stock on the shelf)                                                                                                                                                                                

Out of stock alert                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Checking the presence of a product in a cabinet                                                                                                                                                                                       

Facilitate the search for a product thanks to a pick to light                                                                                                                                                                        




At Centiloc, we decided to use NFC in order to carry out a geolocation system to the nearest centimetre. RFID would not have allowed us to do this because RFID would have been able to tell us what items were present but would not have been able to geolocate them. Thus, our geolocation system, thanks to NFC technology, will be ale to adapt to different environments such as a warehouse, a shop, a wine cellar, closed and difficult to access environments or environments requiring tigorous protocols such as nuclear industry, aerospace, new space, metrology and chemistry.  

Thanks to NFC technology, Centiloc offers a system that saves significant time, allows precise control of the quality of tools enables total tracking of stored products by identifying them one by one, thus allowing better management of the FIFO and avoiding product wastage.