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Hong Kong Tests RFID for Product Authentication

A GS1 Hong Kong-led project uses UHF EPC tags to allow consumers to verify that goods purchased at Hong Kong International Airport are not counterfeit.
By David Friedlos
Jul 06, 2009Asia has a reputation for being a haven for counterfeiters, but GS1 Hong Kong is working with several companies to test a radio frequency identification system designed to give consumers a convenient and reliable way to distinguish genuine goods from counterfeit products at airport retailers.

For the project, funded by Hong Kong's Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO), individual products are assigned a unique VerCode, hidden under a secure label. Consumers can then verify a product's authenticity by inputting the code via GS1 Hong Kong's Barcode Plus Web site, or by sending a text message to a local phone number so that the product code can be confirmed.

Consumers can verify that goods purchased at Hong Kong International Airport are not counterfeit.
But to improve the traceability of goods from production to purchase, GS1 Hong Kong also assigned RFID tags to each product, and installed RFID smart kiosks at airport retailer Travelcare Express, operated by Nuance Watson. Customers can scan the RFID label on any product at the duty-free shop, then track that item through critical points along the supply chain.

Anna Lin, GS1 Hong Kong's chief executive, says the country is well known as a shoppers' paradise, but consumers must have confidence in the integrity of retailers' leading brands. "The product authentication solution provides a trusted channel for participating companies to deliver product quality information to consumers," she says. "It allows consumers to distinguish between genuine products and fakes. Moreover, it enables retailers to protect their supply chains from counterfeit products, and ensure the integrity of their brand names. In the long term, these efforts will help enhance Hong Kong's reputation for providing authentic goods at a reasonable price."

GS1 Hong Kong chose RFID because it can be used to capture the data necessary for conducting track-and-trace applications with little human labor and few errors. It then sought support from four companies representing different roles in the supply chain, including Hong Kong-based Chinese medicine manufacturer Po Sum On Medicine Factory, traditional Chinese ingredient supplier First Edible Nest, health supplement supplier Comvita and retailer Nuance Watson, which runs Travelcare Express stores at airports.

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