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Using NFC
Enabling and using NFC Passes
Enabling and using NFC Passes

Guidance on how to generate Apple VAS and Google SmartTap NFC Passes

Paul Tomes avatar
Written by Paul Tomes
Updated over a week ago

In order to create a NFC passes like this sample pass, the following resources and configuration are required:


  • An Apple Developer account that has been approved to issue NFC Pass Type Identifier Certificates - you can request NFC activation from the Apple Developer Portal (login required).

  • An Apple NFC Pass Type Identifier Certificate.

  • A terminal or other hardware capable of reading Apple VAS and Google SmartTap Passes, together with compatible Point of Sale or other software to process the pass payload.

When requesting NFC activation, Apple will ask for detailed information about your intended use case and customer experience. The following use cases are considered:

  • Loyalty Cards

  • Membership Cards

  • Coupons

  • Event Tickets

  • Boarding Passes

Unattended access control or stored value cards are not considered.

Apple will also request evidence that you have the necessary hardware, software and capabilities to develop or deploy an ecosystem that is going to deliver an experience consistent with their guidelines. You should provide as much detail as possible in your request and we recommend that you follow up with your regional Apple Worldwide Developer Relations Manager a few days after submission.


Uploading your certificate

Once you have been granted NFC Certificate from Apple, follow the usual certificate uploading instructions, making sure you upload the NFC enabled certificate to the PassKit Portal.

Both Apple Wallet and Google Pay passes will automatically have NFC support and will be encrypted with the same ECDSA key.

NFC Frequently Asked Questions

Can I issue a pass with a plain text payload?

Yes for Apple Pay, but only if you have developer mode enabled and have selected NFC Pass Key Optional from the developer menu.

Why can't I read a pass with my NFC reader or NFC app?

Both Apple VAS (Value Added Services) and Google SmartTap use proprietary protocols to communicate data between the phone and the terminal. A regular NFC tag reader or NFC tag reading application cannot read an NFC pass.

Where can I get hardware that supports Apple VAS or Google SmartTap?

The VTAP100 from Dot Origin is a unique new contactless reader designed to read mobile passes directly from Apple iPhone, Apple Watch and Google Android NFC devices via a simple tap.

Additionally, almost the entire range of ID TECH support both Apple VAS and Google SmartTap. Ingenico, Verifone, and a number of other EMV terminal manufacturers have models that support one of both of the protocols.

Why do I need software or an integration to process the payload?

When you read an NFC pass, you are simply getting the data stored in the payload. This is restricted to a relatively small amount of just 64 characters. What happens next is rarely the same between two implementations. The payload could be a loyalty card number, a coupon or offer SKU, or a sporting event ticket or season pass.

It is up to your implementation to know what to do with the payload, and how (if necessary) to respond after the NFC pass has been read. For example, with a coupon, you may wish to void the coupon after it has been used, whereas for loyalty, you may want to use the number to apply points and perhaps offer some coupons based on what has just been purchased.

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