Over the past years, the global supply chain and distribution system experienced a deep transformation regarding technologies adopted, frameworks, and geographical reach. But while this unprecedented growth has proved essential to meet today’s rising consumer demand, it is important not to underestimate new risks and challenges.
In particular, the global distribution system has never been more prone to the risk of product tampering, illegal refilling and diversion, and counterfeiting.
Luckily, thanks to new technologies such as NFC, supply chain managers can secure and safeguard their products from bad actors. In this guide, you’ll find what you need to know about using NFC technology to secure products and prevent tampering.
If you are looking for more in-depth information about authenticating products via NFC, check out this guide: https://authena.io/authenticate-via-nfc-technology-to-prevent-product-tampering/
What Are NFC Tags?
It is important to cover the basics to understand how NFC can contribute to better product security. So, what is NFC? And how does NFC work?
Near-Field Communication is a two-part technology that allows the secure exchange of information between a tag or label and an enabled reader device. The high level of NFC security comes from exchanging information within a short range of a few centimeters.
Although use cases might make RFID more convenient than NFC (i.e., for road tolls structures), the latter is considered to be an upgrade of the former, most of all as it is readable by any modern smartphone, thus also by end customers.
Today, NFC is everywhere and used in multiple aspects of our lives. Some notable examples of NFC use cases include contactless payments, payments with digital wallets, and public transport access cards.
But is NFC secure enough to make a difference within the global distribution system? Here’s what you need to know.
How Do NFC Tags Work?
As mentioned, NFC is a two-part technology which involves a label integrated into a product and an enabled reading device:
- The NFC label or tag is usually implemented within a product’s packaging and includes a copper coil and small memory storage, which create a circuit. The label will be able to store some information about the product.
- When an enabled device is placed near the label, the NFC circuit will transmit some information to the device, where the data becomes readable thanks to an ad hoc application.
Although RFID and short-range communication technologies have been around for a while, NFC tags usage has surged over the past years thanks to new applications.
How NFC Help With Product Authentication
NFC-enhanced product packaging is actively contributing to the growth of the NFC and tamper-evident seal market, which is flourishing at an annual rate of 8%. Thanks to the new uses of NFC, this new technology can help with product authentication and security through the supply chain and distribution systems.
In particular, NFC can store essential information about a product, which might include:
- Provenance and origin
- Expiry date
- Manufacturer details
Moreover, NFC is made more secure because data transmission only happens within short ranges and only when using enabled devices.
For manufacturers, tracking products with NFC tags can prevent counterfeiting. From the customer’s viewpoint, accessing all information regarding a certain product is key to making more informed buying decisions.
Benefits of Using NFC Tags for Product Authentication
Using NFC for product security and authentication can be an excellent choice, leading to significant benefits for manufacturers and consumers. These include:
- Accessing accurate and truthful information about a product in real-time
- The ability to identify and locate each item imprinted with an NFC tag
- Accessing all information available about a product from enabled devices such as smartphones
- Greater supply chain visibility
- More data transmission security due to the short range of action
- Harder to tamper with and to clone compared to QR codes and barcodes
Using NFC Tags as Part of an End-to-End Product Security Solution
As we have seen above, NFC labels can play a vital role in improving product security and verifying the authenticity of an item from its conception to consumption. Nonetheless, without an end-to-end product security infrastructure to rely on, these labels might not be efficient or effective in preventing tampering.
So, what should manufacturers consider?
A great way to boost supply chain safety is to build an ad hoc authentication system, which takes advantage of technologies such as NFC, RFID, geolocators, blockchain, NFTs, and digital twinning.
Thanks to blockchain-based technologies that immutably record all information about a product, you can be sure that the information transmitted via NFC tags is truthful and accurate.
Working With a Product Authentication Expert
When it comes down to the security of your products from the risk of tampering and counterfeiting, new technologies can help. However, individual systems and tools without a bulletproof framework to rely on, might not be efficient.
If you are unsure how to boost the security of your supply chain, partnering with an authentication expert at Authena and introducing an end-to-end security solution can help.