SmartCard America Blog

RFID for Brand Protection by NFC Chips

RFID offers a higher comprehensive way to safeguard your brand, because RFID supports a multi-pronged approach that includes authentication, track and trace, and tamper evidence. Counterfeit goods are a universal challenge across all industries. They can lead to lost sales and a poor user experience. Embedding cryptographically secure tags into goods authenticates the items and might enhance the customer ‘ experience, increase consumer loyalty and improve product functionality.

SmartCard America RFID NFC TAGS

The NFC chip: An efficient tool against counterfeiting, Each NFC MIFARE chip has a unique international identifier which is impossible to duplicate. A manufacturer or a brand who buys NFC chips will be the single and exclusive owner of those chips’ numbers. The chip can be read with a simple smartphone which is equipped with NFC technology or a specific NFC reader. That means consumers or customs officers can very easily authenticate a product and check it is not a fake. The NFC chip acts as an electronic certificate of authenticity.

Experts in manufacturing of RFID labels, Paragon Identification have totally mastered the invisible integration of a NFC chip in a label, even the smallest of labels. Brands looking for intelligent solutions for brand protection should use smart packaging to fight counterfeiting.

Counterfeiting and counterfeit products are nothing new. Whenever and wherever valuable products are coming to the marketplace, they are targets for cloning by counterfeiters. High-value products like electronics, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals have long been targeted, and both the brand owners and consumers have suffered the consequences.

Counterfeiters find traditional packaging and the accompanying barcodes often straight-forward to copy and can replicate good enough copies to fool some of the consumers, sometimes. Across all industries, this accounts for multi-billion dollars losses and the direction of funds towards criminal organisations.


Whilst the counterfeiters reap the benefits of cheap cloning, they bypass the true costs for the genuine businesses such as their investment in the IPR (intellectual property rights) and the high cost of product development with the duty to consider the health and safety of consumers.

Counterfeit products dilute the value of a brand by offering substandard products in the brand’s name. It is an enormous challenge for brand owners to monitor the real-world global situation, to find the fakes and act to remove them from the market and to prevent future cases. For many years various governmental organisations have joined business owners in the fight against counterfeit goods. Smart technology added to packaging at manufacturing is the way to fight the counterfeiters.

For more than a decade, the pharmaceutical industry has been leading the way by using RFID technology as a key resource against counterfeiting. This is an industry where the quality and the safety of a product directly affect the health of the population.


Various anti-counterfeit and anti-tamper solutions have been developed leveraging RFID technology to enable supply chain integrity. This opens a window into the flow of product from the place of manufacture, through the often complex and multi-party global distribution chain, into retail organisation and sell out to consumers. During this journey, there is a high risk of intervention by criminals and opportunity for counterfeit goods to enter a parallel ‘grey’ market for fake and possibly dangerous products.

Adding an RFID tag onto a product which can then be read by interrogators (reading machines) throughout their journey creates the basis of an intelligent packaging solution. Often called ‘track and trace’ this is a largely automated process where auditing in real-time flags discrepancies as soon as they occur along the supply chain. Differing levels of security can be applied with connections to product databases for querying and logging timestamps. All this gives peace of mind to the product sellers that products have not been altered.

RFID Library Book Management

One benefit of RFID versus the use of traditional barcode is that thousands of tags can be scanned simultaneously and from a further distance than barcodes, which have to have ‘line of sight’ to the barcode in order to read. Barcode readers cannot look inside the box. RFID readers can, therefore, the most accurate product count is enabled.

The level of RFID tag sophistication depends upon the products themselves. Anti-tamper methods can be applied on to the outside of a product package in artwork or label form and quite visible (has the cap label broken?), other methods include adding invisible features into the product itself for example liquid into medicine that only shows with the correct reading device.

With intelligent RFID tags, there is the possibility not only to read product information but also sometimes to write or add extra, important information into its log files.


New retail landscape requires new intelligent solutions

Since the tremendous growth of the internet and its eCommerce capabilities, traditional retail ‘bricks and mortar’ stores have been suffering from the increased numbers of consumers reducing visits to physical stores and instead of buying products online. The delivery of ordered products is reliable and there is growing focus by internet stores to offer same day and next day deliveries (for a premium) to satisfy consumers who ‘want it now’.

The convenience for consumers to compare prices and shop online, when they want and how they want, using a device or devices of their choice–be it their smartphone, iPad or laptop–is proving irresistible to millennials and more.

Retailers have woken up to this fierce competition, and with RFID technology they leverage their strengths and become more efficient businesses. These high street and out-of-town stores are the trusted go-to place for genuine products.

Better visibility brings savings and new revenue


Leading retailers have been integrating RFID solutions to improve supply chain efficiency and to monitor their inventory as primary goals. Impressive figures are reported where store inventory accuracy can rise to 99% compared to the normal state of 65%. Improving and reducing the out-of-stock scenarios (empty shelf) can also increase sales by several percents. Similarly, the ability to locate a missing product using their unique RFID tag can lift sales. This is about reducing lost opportunities. Consumers in the store need to find what they are looking for. It is critical to serve the consumer at the point of sale.

With RFID tags in use, a simple query to the retailer’s system by a sales clerk can find product item information, locate the item and make the sale.

With large retailers offering to buy online and collect at store services, there is more pressure to know exactly the inventory and its location. When items have RFID tags embedded in labels, retailers have the possibility to not only know instantly how many items there are in stock in the store (and in the backroom storage) but additionally with location enabled, know where the items are.

If you apply the ‘supply chain integrity’ mantra, then store owners can have peace of mind that products they receive and put to their shelves are genuine and have not been tampered with during the distribution phase.

Extended opportunities and new value creation

Much of the issue is about educating consumers not to purchase counterfeit products. In some countries, special RFID reader devices (interrogators) have been offered to consumers so they can look at the authenticity of their product before purchase.

It is important that the consumer not only has confidence in the authenticity of the goods being sold in store but especially as more and more people purchase online we should expect new anti-counterfeit solutions. Already it is technically possible to verify online goods using a smartphone to remotely read tags and enable checking via internet connection to a secure database which verifies the product as authentic.

The ability for technology to enable new anti-counterfeiting measures for brands is a quickly growing area and RFID technology provides multiple elements to achieve this.

 NXP is the Number ONE in Identification and leading in RFID industry innovations. SmartCard America offers a full suite of high performance contactless solutions across the full RFID frequency range – enabling a world of smart objects. SmartCard America offers NXP ICODE, NTAG, MIFARE and UCODE product families meet your specific brand protection needs across different security levels and operating ranges. NXP Chips are the trusted by governments and the banking industry for decades, equally working with multinational clients across many industries around the world. For more information, please contact SmartCard  America.


Source: NXP MIFARE and SmartCard America R&D