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“Watch this,” you say as you pop out your phone. You hold it up to the keypad and complete the purchase with Samsung Pay. “That’s so cool!” your friends say. “How does it work?” You feel a bead of sweat slide down your cheek: the truth is, you don’t know! Don’t worry, we’ll explain how NFC tags work, which is the magical element that powers Samsung Pay and Android Beam.

N…F... What?

You might have realized it, but yes, your phone has NFC tags in it. If you’re wondering, NFC stands for “Near Field Communication.” This technology lets your phone communicate with other devices that have NFC tags - like keypads, ATMs, and other phones! That’s awesome, but how does it work? NFC tags use radio signals to wirelessly communicate. When a NFC reader, like an ATM, gets close to the NFC tag in your phone, the reader energizes the tag and transfers data from it, using radio signals.

Now, an NFC tag isn’t a literal tag, like a clothing tag. It’s a little more complicated. NFC tags are made up of an NFC chip, an antenna, and a substrate (a piece of plastic) that holds everything in place. The chip is teeny tiny, but it has a small amount of memory and can store data, such as your Samsung Pay info. The antenna helps to send out the wireless signals – imagine an itty-bitty cell phone tower. And the substrate can vary depending on the type of NFC tag. All together, these parts work with one another to send out a wireless signal that can transfer data.

Turn on NFC Capability

Whenever you buy something or transfer money with Samsung Pay, you’re using an NFC tag. You’re also using it when you share funny memes to your friends’ phones through Android Beam. However, if NFC isn’t enabled on your phone, you can’t use these features. To turn it on, use two fingers to swipe down from the top of your phone’s screen. In the Quick Settings panel, navigate to and touch NFC. Boom! You’ve got instant payment and sharing right at your fingertips.

Note: Hold down on the NFC icon to see more options. If needed, touch the slider next to Android Beam to turn it on.

Knowing how NFC tags work hasn’t just impressed your friends. It’s also made you more knowledgeable. But mostly, it’s made you appreciate your Galaxy phone and its awesome features even more.