What is RFID?


What does RFID mean?

RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification Device is a method of automatic identification and data capture. It’s used to track and measure all kinds of things – from products and devices, to people and animals.

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How RFID works

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is already all around you. And as RFID technology gets smaller and smaller, and ever cheaper to produce, it’s going to become even more ubiquitous – with thousands of new uses, the risk of data theft is also on the rise. 

But even though RFID is already all over the place, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of it yet. First, because it’s too small to see. And second, because it’s mainly used by companies to power other features like parcel tracking, contactless payments and personal identification. So even though you’re already using RFID, you probably know it by another name.

It’s time to change that. Here’s our guide to RFID technology: what it is, where it came from, what it can do and where it’s going. If you want to know more about RFID, read on.

RFID tags

RFID-enabled items are embedded with an RFID tag (which contains an RFID chip). RFID chips are:

  • Really small. And like computer chips, they’re getting smaller every year. This is leading to privacy concerning new applications for RFID, one of the most popular being contactless payments with credit cards. That’s right, there’s an RFID tag in your newest card. 

Cyber criminals with RFID knowledge can duplicate the contents of your wallet without you knowing it. This is leading to a new wave of cyber theft. 


  • Powered (partly) by radio waves. How do electronic RFID tags stay working for a long time without a battery recharge? The answer is one of the most impressive things about RFID technology. Some RFID tags are powered by electromagnetic induction from the RFID reader scanning them. Others are powered by energy from radio waves from the RFID reader.

Surveillance can use RFID readers to read your passport from a-far, without you even realising it. This is an invasion of privacy. 


  • Able to store unique data. As well as having a unique identification code, RFID tags have memory. They can typically store around 2KB of data, which is enough to include GPS coordinates, timestamps, text and much more.

How much information about you exactly is stored in RFID chips? A lot. 

RFID tags are then identified and tracked by an RFID reader (or RFID interrogator). RFID readers come in two different kinds, just like RFID tags. Active RFID readers transmit radio waves that detect passive RFID tags. Passive RFID readers detect radio waves transmitted by active tags. Some tags and readers send and receive signals.


    Where RFID comes from

    The evolution of RFID began in 1945, when the Soviet Union created an espionage tool that could re-transmit radio waves. In WWII RFID-like technology was also used to identify friendly and enemy aircraft. The first product patented as “RFID” was created by Charles Walton in 1983.

    RFID is all around you

    RFID is already being used in countless different ways such as:

    • Contactless identification of your credit card, passport and other ID cards.
    • Tracking animals such as pets and cattle. In animals, an RFID tag no bigger than a grain of rice is embedded beneath the skin.
    • Tracking shipping containers and products, so that companies can now automatically measure movement of their stock.
    • Anti-theft systems in stores and personal belongings. 

    These tags make it simple for a cyber criminal to steal the contents of your wallet, without even touching you. Buy Wallet Wall and protect yourself from data theft and protect the contents of your wallet.

    Buy an RFID Blocking Wallet Today!