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PCGS Announces Security Chip-Embedded Slabs To Protect Against Counterfeiting

On Dec. 26, 2019, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) announced its partnership with HID Global to begin embedding high-security Near Field Communication (NFC) chip technology in PCGS coin slabs. PCGS slabs embedded with NFC technology allow any collector or dealer with a modern smartphone to easily verify that the coin encapsulated within was indeed certified, graded, and slabbed by PCGS.

The new NFC-enabled slabs will premiere in early 2020 and will be identified as such on their labels. PCGS will make this technology available for all domestic Gold Shield products at no additional charge. While this anti-counterfeiting technology is already employed in a variety of industries, including those involving luxury goods, it’s new to numismatics.

“We will be the first in the numismatic industry and among the first in any of the collectibles fields to utilize this type of technology at scale,” said PCGS Chief Information Officer John Nelson. “This will allow collectors to tap their coins with their phones and the certificate verification will pop right up. On some of the most modern smartphones this data will appear on the screen without even having to download an app.”

These state-of-the-art NFC chips, which individually serve as one part of a wireless connection, incorporate encrypted technology to securely exchange data between it and another NFC-enabled device, such as a smartphone. NFC inserts are intuitive and very easy to use. Those who have Android and iPhone XS (or newer) phones need to simply put those devices close to the chip, and this action will automatically launch the PCGS Cert Verification app if the user has it installed or open a web browser to display the information about the slab and the coin within. Meanwhile, those who use older iPhones will need to launch an NFC chip-reading app before putting their device near the chip and enjoying the same experience.

Mark Robinton, Vice President of IoT Services, Identification Technologies with HID Global, explains, “The NFC chip contains a uniform resource locator (URL) that generates a unique, cryptographic one-time password (OTP) that changes every time the chip is tapped. This password is validated by the HID Trusted Tag® Cloud Authentication service to prove that it is the exact same tag that was issued with the slab.”

This technology, representing many years of development, marks a new era for PCGS at a time when sophisticated counterfeit slabs are appearing with ever greater prevalence in the marketplace. “PCGS’ use of this technology is ideal for adding trusted identities to the collectibles that have gone through the PCGS vetting process; it is exactly in line with the vision of HID Trusted Tag Services, and we are excited to work with PCGS on this deployment,” Robinton remarks. “The addition of trusted NFC inserts to the slabs will allow a very simple and secure validation of the authenticity of the coin.”

Images courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Services. 

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