What is the Difference Between NFC and EMV?

NFC and EMV both refer to relatively new terms in payments technology that, together, have changed the landscape of accepting credit and debit cards for merchants and consumers alike. But what are they and what is the difference between them?

What is EMV?

EMV (which stands for EuroPay, Mastercard, and Visa) refers to a security standard which is exclusive to the payments industry. The EMV infrastructure is separate from the previous magstripe standard and its related infrastructure. 

What is NFC?

NFC (which stands for “Near Field Communication”) refers to the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology (not exclusive to the payments industry) that allows two devices to communicate with each other simply by being in close proximity to one another. All NFC transactions are actually EMV transactions powered by RFID technology.

So What’s The Difference?

These technologies are essentially the same: they allow for payments to take place, however the way they work is different. Standard EMV uses the chip embedded in the credit card to communicate with the card terminal, whereas NFC uses radio waves.

Are EMV/NFC Transactions Secure?

EMV was introduced to add additional security when processing payments to protect both the merchants and the cardholders and limit their exposure to fraud. When EMV was introduced around the world, it had a significant impact on card-present fraud. Each time you process an EMV transaction, the payment creates a unique transaction ID that cannot be replicated, and the cards themselves are also more difficult for fraudsters to replicate compared to magnetic stripe cards.

If a customer makes a purchase using NFC technology, then both Visa and Mastercard require the customer to hold their card (or device) close to the card reader for the transaction to be processed. Each NFC transaction also includes a unique security code to help protect against fraud. Unlike chip & pin or EMV transactions, many NFC transactions have a limit of about $100 in case the card is stolen, and if the transaction amount is above that, then customers will need to insert their card into the terminal and enter their pin for the transaction to go through.

Final Thoughts

NFC is a further development of EMV technology for use in payments. If a credit or debit card or NFC-enabled device is equipped with NFC, then cardholders are able to pay for a purchase by simply holding their card close to the terminal. However, EMV is still powering NFC payments, and the “old-fashioned” chip & pin is often still required.

Free Payments Guide

Want to learn how to make the best payments decisions for your business?

Develop a deeper understanding on how the payments industry works, how fee structures are determined, and how to protect your business from fraud.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Kevin Mako working on an invention project with a team member at Mako

Merchants of Helcim: Mako Design

In the Fall of 2021, Kevin Mako – Founder of Mako Design & Invent—and Kyle Ellergodt, Helcim’s Partnership Specialist—met together to discuss the nature of

How to Price a Product or Service

You’ve worked hard on your business idea. You’ve got a product that you’re confident the world wants, or perform a service that people need, and

Contact Us​.

We’re Always Happy to Help!

Our in-house team of Merchant Experience Specialists are here to share their knowledge, answer your questions and point you in the right direction. No commissions, no pressure.

New to accepting card payments? Many of our merchants are first time business owners who are unfamiliar with the industry. We take the time to help you understand how it all works as well as how to avoid common pitfalls.

Get In Touch

Toll-Free: +1 (877) 643-5246


Calgary Head-Office:

Suite 400 – 440 2 Ave SW

Calgary, Alberta T2P 5E9

Seattle Office:

Suite 4200 – 701 5th Avenue

Seattle, Washington 98104