A new guide explains how to make the use of contactless applications more intuitive. It is called the Wayfinding Mark System

With the release of the most recent Wayfinding Mark SystemST publishes an updated version of its white paper on how to design NFC for better user experiencetwo indispensable tools to ensure that end users of the contactless applications know how to make the most of the tools made available to them.

The update is highly symbolic in that new chapter in the history of NFC. A new iconography it is presented to the collective consciousness to make contactless solutions omnipresent.

The protagonists of this new chapter are the producers. It is up to companies to choose between the various icons now, knowing that this one will have repercussions on the duration of their product. So let’s try to understand the reasons behind the new Wayfinding Mark System and how to take full advantage of it.

User difficulties with contactless applications

The NFC Forum, of which ST is a member, published the results of a survey on user experiences in June 2021. The two most important problems reported by consumers were the excessive duration of the experience and the lack of information.

For example, only 30% knew where to touch their mobile device. Unfortunately, around 35% had difficulty during the first few attempts, and 20% still occasionally couldn’t remember where to touch. Analyzing the answers, the NFC forum found that over 25% had problems finding the contact point due to lack of information or due to incomplete information.

The global pandemic has further exacerbated the problem. The use of contactless features has established itself significantly for support the need not to touch coins, banknotes and hard surfaces.

Contactless became overnight a health-saving measure.

However, there are still too many doubts about how contactless payments are used and whether they are actually safe. As the world slowly emerges from the pandemic, the NFC Forum is seizing the opportunity to to improve the situation.

The successes of the contactless revolution

For nearly 90% of users, NFC transactions are successful on the first try, an incredible success rate. Almost 80% of the people interviewed by the NFC Forum found the interaction natural.

A study published by ABI Research in 2020 found similar results, with 88% of respondents who described a positive experience.

Even more encouraging, analysts found that once they get started, the vast majority of users take to use technology almost dailywith over 80% storing more than one card in their mobile wallet.

In simple terms, most consumers have adopted the use of NFC. The NFC Forum is now trying to reach out to those who are still grappling with real, concrete problems.

New symbols shed light on contactless functions

According to the survey data, current challenges are solved in one new range of icons. According to the results of the survey conducted by the NFC Forum, 35% of the respondents were able to identify the correct point of contact by recognizing the relevant symbol.

The organization has therefore developed new versions of the letter N to allow identification of the required function.


The minimalist version is deliberately wide for adapt to objects such as car doors. The symbol can also be used by manufacturers of cell phones without compromising the aesthetics of the product.

The sign represents an N that uses two interlocking branches for symbolize the approach of two different objectsto be optionally placed at the precise point of contact between two different devices.


The defined directional icon uses the image of two arrows to guide users. It is more prominent and uses concentric waves to attract consumers’ eyes while leaving the impression of wireless interaction.

The NFC Forum identifies the use of this particular symbol on awide range of products. Could be used on hotel doorson shop tags or on product packaging.

The directional icon does not allude to payment but remains neutraltestifying to the Forum’s desire to expand NFC technology to more applications for use.


The desire to cover more applications has also led to the creation of an icon dedicated to wireless charging. The image is almost identical to the simplified version, but accompanied by the symbol of a lightning bolt. This is an image designed for charging cases to avoid confusion.

The absence of waves, as in the directional version, wants limit the use of the symbol to this single application, still a little understood by the public. With this dedicated iconography, the Forum hopes to facilitate more widespread adoption of wireless charging.


Finally, the latest symbol of the new WayFinding Mark System is an educational version. Show a hand that brings a phone close to the icons previously described.

This is the symbol with the most important dimensions, designed for products that do not usually enjoy contactless interactions. With it, the NFC Forum builds on the survey results to address demographic groups less familiar with the technology.

The educational version it also reuses simplified and directional icons to act as a bridge for consumers. As the use of technology becomes more and more widespread, manufacturers will be able to switch from educational versions to simplified or directional ones.

Better user experience means more education

Possible applications using the new Wayfinding Mark System. Image credit: NFC Forum

The NFC Forum is making the new Wayfinding Mark System as smooth as possible. The use of icons is not related to the certification process as the Forum wants to democratize them as soon as possible.

However, this goal is only achievable educating both producers and the public. A study conducted by Viennese researchers shows that NFC payments are still the subject of “miscellaneous prejudices among users“, Demonstrating that“ there is still room to improve the degree of use of NFC based on user experience ”.

Another study published in 2019 showed that the visual feedback played a vital role in improving interactions with NFC payment terminals.

Importance of communicating

The democratization of contactless tools will therefore imperatively require theeducation both manufacturers and users of products that comply with the NFC guidelines.

It is the reason why ST it does not simply provide development devices and tools that have helped companies bring technology to new products, but educate your partners on the key aspects ofuser experienceon NFC contact pointson inner workings of technologyon how i mobile devices make use of it and on what determines the success of an application.

The post Simplified contactless: the new symbols arrive first appeared on Technology Review Italia.

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