NFC Standards and NFC Forum

NFC Standards and NFC Forum

There are several organizations that standardize operation, information and communication of NFC technology. Some of them are the same as the ones we know from general RFID technology like International Standards Organization (ISO) or European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and then there are additional organizations like European Association for Standardizing Information and Communication Systems (ECMA) and NFC Forum.

The ECMA is a private organization for standardization of information and communication systems and entertainment electronics. There are several standards that they have developed and that they are also reflected in the ISO standards:

  • ECMA-340: NFCIP-1 Interface and protocol – standardizes RF field/signal interface, initialization/anti-collision, transport protocols, and describes active and passive RF modes, and peer-to-peer mode. It also provides several data rates that can be used with NFC.
  • ECMA-352: NFCIP-2 Interface and protocol – specifies operating mode selection (ISO 14443, 15693 or NFCIP-1).
  • ECMA-356: NFCIP-1 – RF interface Test Methods – basic standard to ensure interoperability on the RF interface for ECMA-340 devices.
  • ECMA-362: NFCIP-1 – Protocol Test Methods – basic standard to ensure interoperability of ECMA-340 devices for the initialization, the single device detection and the transmission protocol.

ISO/IEC describes Interface, protocols and test methods for different NFC standards developed by two subcommittees.

  • SC6 (Subcommittee 6)
    • ISO/IEC 18092 = ECMA-340: NFCIP-1 Interface and protocol
    • ISO/IEC 21481 = ECMA-352: NFCIP-2 Interface and protocol
    • ISO/IEC 22536 = ECMA-356: NFCIP-1 –RF interface Test Methods
    • ISO/IEC 23917 = ECMA-362: NFCIP-1 –Protocol Test Methods
  • SC 17 (Subcommittee 17)
    • ISO/IEC 14443 parts 1-4 RF interface, activation and protocols
    • ISO/IEC 10373-6 test methods
    • ISO/IEC 15693 – standard for Vicinity Cards

ETSI also provides European standards for NFC.

  • International standards for communication – Mobile phones
  • ETSI TS 102 190 = ECMA-340: NFCIP-1 Interface and protocol

NFC Forum is a private organization consisting of many working groups. It is an alliance of industry organizations working together to provide a framework for application development and technology implementation and security of transactions. It is similar to EPCglobal/GS1 for UHF RFID.

The goals of the NFC forum are:

  • Develop standards-based NFC specifications
  • Encourage the development of products based on NFC Forum specifications
  • Work to ensure that products claiming NFC capabilities comply with NFC Forum specifications
  • Educate consumers and enterprises globally about NFC
  • Establish the NFC Forum and NFC technology brands as well recognized and utilized marks.

NFC Forum develops standards in the following areas:

  • Protocol Technical Specification
  • Data Exchange Format Technical Specification
  • NFC Forum Tag Type Technical Specifications – 5 tag types (as of Jun 2016)
  • Record Type Definition Technical Specifications
  • Reference Application Technical Specifications

See full list at

NFC Forum Operating Modes

NFC Operating Modes

NFC Technical Architecture

NFC Forum has published an integrated SET of Specifications for:

  • Analog 2.0
  • NFC Activity 2.0
  • Connection Handover 1.3
  • NCI 2.0
  • Digital Protocol 2.0
  • LLCP 1.3
  • Type 1/2/3/4/5 Tags

NFC Architecture Detail

Connection Handover

  • Enables two NFC devices to establish a connection and perform an action using other wireless technologies. There are three actions described:
    • Select an alternative carrier, which can be either Static Handover or Negotiated Handover, whcih requires P2P connection.
    • Connect to the selected carrier as defined by the organization standardizing the carrier (e.g., Bluetooth SIG, Wi-FI Alliance)
    • Act as needed to complete the action as defined by the protocol specification.

NFC Forum has developed Bluetooth Secure Simple Pairing with NFC Application Document, what guides developers in building solutions that seamlessly combine Bluetooth and NFC. It was updated to include Bluetooth Smart devices and Bluetooth LE. This has been a product of formal liaison with Bluetooth SIG.

Tag Types

There are other standardization bodies that are involved in NFC, which include:

  • ETSI / SCP (Smart Card Platform) to specify the interface between the SIM card and the NFC chipset.
  • GlobalPlatform to specify a multi-application architecture of the secure element and OTA provisioning etc.
  • EMVCo for the impacts on the EMV payment applications.

This post concludes our blog series about NFC. Let us know if you have any questions or if we can help you with your NFC implementation!