ST explains how NFC tags with digital signatures can provide end-to-end protection against counterfeiting throughout the supply chain

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PROTECTION: NFC tags that support digital signatures can combat counterfeiting across the supply chain

NFC tags that include support for digital signatures can provide protection against counterfeiting and grey market goods right through the supply chain — from the factory, through the distribution chain to the retailer and the consumer — chip maker STMicroelectronics explains in a white paper now available to download from the NFCW Knowledge Centre.

Supply chains inevitably face risks from grey market distribution channels and counterfeit goods and NFC tags are being increasingly used to counter these threats, ST explains in the paper.

However, before a tag reaches the end customer, it undergoes a “rather long” manufacturing process, from the silicon manufacturer to the inlay or raw material maker, then to the system integrator and finally to the end-product assembler.

“Each of these steps involve different companies, with all their associated logistics,” Patrick Sohn, NFC/RFID marketing manager at STMicroelectronics, explained to NFC World, so counterfeiting may come up in each of these phases.

This means that, to know for sure that a product carrying an NFC tag is authentic, you must first be sure that the NFC tag itself is genuine and can be trusted.

“Selecting NFC tags which use chips that include digital signature support, such as the TruST25-enabled tag ICs which form part of our ST25 product family, can both provide a solution to this issue and drive increased customer engagement,” Sohn explains.

A digital signature is an intrinsically secure type of electronic signature that can be processed to guarantee the integrity of the signed content and authenticate its origin throughout the supply chain, ST explains in its white paper.

“RFID and NFC tags can also be read using smartphones equipped with NFC controllers. This enables the development of new services for improving user engagement by retailers and brands, as well as for increasing revenue.

“Here, too, the use of TruST25 digital signatures will ensure a higher level of trust in the user experience.”

Readers interested in learning more about how digital signatures work and how they can be used with NFC tags to provide protection against counterfeiting throughout the supply chain can download both the white paper and an in-depth technical article from the NFCW Knowledge Centre.