How to use NFC technology to fight against counterfeiting

Woman with a red bag and an NFC enabled smartphone

Counterfeiting is a global problem, spurred by the growth of online selling channels and globalization.

Discover how embedding NFC tags into goods can protect your brand from losing revenues and enable anti-counterfeiting, while ensuring consumer safety.

Counterfeiting: a persistent global issue

The drawbacks related to gray markets go beyond sales losses and decreased consumer trust and brand reputation. For instance, counterfeiting causes significant health risks in the pharmaceutical industry, where many of the drugs sold online are fake..

Counterfeiting has grown from a $30B trade problem in the 1980s, and now exceeds $600B in trade.

Source: NC State University, 2021

Counterfeit and pirate goods cause increasing economic losses to companies, industries, and countries, and threaten consumer health and safety.

How to leverage NFC technology to protect brands and consumers

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is a wireless connectivity technology based on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) enabling contactless communication between an NFC reader chip and an NFC tag.

The NFC reader is the main controller of the communication system, as it initiates the wireless communication, powers up the NFC tag, and sends commands through the magnetic field to the passive NFC tag.

How it works

NFC technology is a proven solution to authenticate products, check their origin and ensure their integrity, serving both brands and consumers.

One of the benefits of NFC technology is its ease of integration: the smallest NFC tags available are approximately 10 mm wide and can easily go unnoticed in product packaging, clothes, or wine bottles for example.

To check product authenticity, users can read the information in the NFC tag with their smartphone used as an NFC reader. By simply tapping the tag with their smartphone (bringing the smartphone and the tag close), customers can access the tag’s content, previously configured by the brand. Companies can choose the type of content and features programmed in the NFC tag. Tag configuration can be easily carried out at the manufacturing stage.

Connection NFC with perfume


NFC technology can help brands protect their reputation and increase consumer trust. Find out more in the brochures below. Select your industry and download the dedicated resource:

Examples: how NFC can add value to your products, depending on your industry

Woman with a luxury bag

Luxury brands

NFC tags can ensure product authenticity and brand protection, helping luxury brands fight against counterfeiting. The NFC tag can be integrated into their items, such as in handbags, leather jackets, or jewelry boxes, during production.

Brand owners and consumers can access the tag content by tapping it with their NFC-enabled smartphone and receiving confirmation that their product is authentic.

Toothbrush with NFC

Healthcare & wellness industry

This segment is particularly affected by counterfeiting. Product add-ons and accessories can be easily tampered with. Consumers may purchase low-cost alternatives, which have not been manufactured by the original brand, leading to possible product malfunctions, and impacting sales.

By embedding an NFC reader in the main unit, and a tag in the associated accessory (Reader+Tag configuration), brands can prevent the usage of low-quality or hazardous batteries, or other non-suitable accessories. Let’s take the example of an electric toothbrush: the NFC reader embedded in the main unit recognizes the tag in the rotating head for product authentication.

Medical products

Pharmaceutical goods

Billions of counterfeit medicines are traded around the world, harming thousands of people every year, especially in developing countries. It is therefore crucial to find solutions to increase patient safety and security. A tag can be embedded in the packaging of medical supplies, such as medicine, vaccines, or drug samples.

Thanks to the tag’s tamper detection feature pharmaceutical brands can ensure product integrity and therefore patient safety.

Before taking their medication, patients can use their smartphone to tap the drug box containing the NFC tag and receive confirmation that the medication is safe to use.

NFC tags can be used to authenticate consumables thanks to a Reader + Tag configuration. For example, the NFC reader in an insulin pen can authenticate the cartridges for the device, thanks to the NFC tag embedded in them.

Read the success story about the connected syringe from NP Plastibell to learn more: integrated inside the body of the syringe, the tag enables manufacturing, medical personnel, and patients to access important medicine-related information.

Wine & spirits industry

Similarly, the wine & spirits segment can leverage NFC technology to ensure product integrity and reassure consumers about product authenticity. Since an NFC tag can be programmed to enable many different use cases, the NFC tag in the bottle cap can embed a tamper detection feature in addition to other features, defined by the producer.

This means that the NFC tag can detect if and when someone removed the bottle cap, maybe to change the contents of the bottle. This provides producers and consumers with proof of authenticity.

Once consumers open the bottle, the information embedded in the NFC tag can change as time goes by. Producers can embed useful information for consumers, adapting the type of content provided (cocktail recipes for example) to the bottle’s opening date.

Shoes close to water and a phone

Sports industry

Sports brands have turned to digital technologies to boost sales, and offer their customers an innovative shopping experience. But the availability of counterfeit sportswear online is increasing. Without licensed stores, counterfeiters can easily produce sportswear and add a fake sports label just before they ship the goods shipped to consumers.

Low-quality, counterfeit sporting equipment can have major consequences on user experience, and even lead to injuries if the equipment does not comply with certain manufacturing standards related to user safety.

Embedding NFC tags into a specific equipment can allow users to authenticate their product, by simply using their smartphone to tap the tag.

Interested in using NFC technology for product authentication? You’re in the right place!

ST25 Connect logo

ST25Connect is a program that aims to ensure the best product integration and implementation of NFC technologies.

By supporting companies from a wide range of industries, such as Paco Rabanne or NP Plastibell, in the implementation process of NFC from the start to the end, we enable the success of their NFC projects.

With ST25Connect, benefit from ST’s technological expertise and network of trusted partners to integrate NFC into your products and start leveraging its potential!

Interested in joining the ST25Connect program? Our experts can provide support and guidance. Fill out the form below. We will get back to you within a week.

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