RSS Feeds

Advanced search

You are in:


Brand authenticity can be verified by mobile phone

Not only that but imagine packaging that could also communicate cocktail recipes and other product information. The technology is there. It's now up to the brand owner.

Not radio frequency indentification technology (RFID), but near field communication (NFC) will soon have a major impact on the possibilities of packaged products, says Geert de Vries managing director of anti-counterfeiting company AC Brains.

The technology is available and affordable. There are already several pilot projects. "Now it is the marketing experts turn," says de Vries.

"Until now there was only a one-way communication regarding graphic products. With the introduction of NFC-technology using mobile phones and inexpensive NFC-chips, it will be possible to transform packaging and graphic products into a two-way communication system.

"Mobile phones are the communication of today. The combination of the mobile phone and Internet opens a new world.".

At the Macropak packaging exhibition held recently in Holland, de Vries demonstrated the new technology.
On his desk were two bottles of Bols liqueur both with labels equipped with NFC-chips. With his Nokia mobile phone de Vries demonstrated how easily it works. The chip on one of the bottles carries the information that this particular bottle originates from Bols. The other bottle for this demonstration was marked as a 'fake'. Although this bottle also carries an NFC-chip, it is not recognised by Bols.
"A wonderful way to confirm product authenticity," says De Vries. "The consumer immediately knows that the bottle is genuine. However, this is not the primary purpose of the NFC-chip. It is about brand manufacturers being able to communicate with their customers."
The demonstration proves that, as soon as the connection with Bols exists, the consumer can receive nice-to-know information, such as recipes for cocktails.

Bartender loyalty points
The added benefit is that a bartender, who is registered with Bols, can obtain further information. Bols can now use the loyalty principle. "Each time the bartender opens a bottle of Bols, he can swipe the chip with his mobile phone and Bols is able to reward him for his loyalty. The company is considering the possibility of giving all students of the Bartender Academy a mobile phone with NFC.
"The marketing possibilities are enormous and the technology is available. Now it is the turn of the brand owners," says De Vries.
The NFC chip is a solution not only for the purpose of marketing, but also for product recalls. "The consumer can immediately find out, should the manufacturer communicate that it has a problem with a product, whether his product should be returned. Besides the battle of parallel imports, where will the chip from such a bottle be read?"

What is NFC?
NFC stands for Near Field Communication. All that is required for this technology is a simple chip on which data is stored, and a device from where the stored information on the chip can be read. In this case a mobile telephone, able to receive NFC-data is the answer. Near Field means that data can be read with the aid of a reading device close to the chip (1-2 cm). During the process of reading the chip with the mobile telephone, an internet connection with the brand owner is established.
Nokia, in the context of a large-scale pilot project, has added features to NFC mobile phones.
NFC-chips are relatively cheap. There is already a chip manufacturing company (PolyIC) producing NFC-Chips! These chips are very easy to integrate into packaging, labels or paper. In the UK, BP Labels in Cardiff is a forerunner in this field.
In due time, it will be possible to print chips on the same equipment as the packaging is printed on, however this process is still expensive.
More information about printed chips:
More information on anti-counterfeit solutions:
More information about NFC in packaging in the UK:

20,000 NFC mobile phones in Rotterdam
Currently there is a large pilot project in Rotterdam with Nokia, Payter and several local partners, such as the free newspaper Metro, Pathe Cinemas, Al Capone Pizza, all local Albert Heijn shops and Carparkings.
20,000 volanteers including all first-year students in Rotterdam have received a Nokia phone with NFC software. With this phone they can pay at Albert Heijn. NFC-chips are installed on posters at Al Capone Pizza. Pointing the phone at a certain pizza connects the consumer to the pizza vendor, where they can vary the delivery address and time given and pay for the pizza, all with the mobile phone. In the Metro, Pathe Cinemas ads with NFC-chips can be found. The phone can connect with Pathe and a film can be booked and paid for.
More information about payment by mobile phone:

To compare NFC and RFID is to compare apples with oranges. RFID on individual item level is still far away. The RFID chip has a greater range and can contain much more information. Because of privacy reasons, an RFID chip should be eliminated at the end of the supply chain. RFID is not suitable for NFC and is also not intended for the same use. It is a totally different application.
The technology is there, as well as pilot projects in Rotterdam and recently also in Amsterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Arnhem. Now it is the turn of the brand owners.

Report by Gerard Molenaar, editor-in-chief Verpakkings Management - Verpakken, a Dutch packaging business magazine

April 09

1 March 2009 - Felicity Murray