As much as I have written, tried to manipulate the search engine optimization (SEO) to get the word out, and dropped messages on social media, people continue to purchase counterfeit coins from China.
You cannot even trust the slabs sent by Chinese companies. A dealer who saw my post about purchasing coins that I suspected were counterfeit saw the picture of the slabs that were shipped. On closer examination, the slabs are the same as they use to counterfeit NGC slabs.
Last week PCGS announced they are adding a tag to their slabs that can help identify them electronically. The technology is called Near Field Communications (NFC). The technology creates contactless communications between a passive and an active device. In this case, the tag in the slab or currency holder is passive. There is no power in the passive tag but will respond to a special signal to transmit its data.
The active device sends the signal that causes the passive tag to respond. In this case, your smartphone can send the signal to and process what the passive tag sends. It is called Near Field Communications because the passive tag does not generate a strong signal, and the active device has to be close enough to hear what the tag has to say.
Using NFC is an interesting idea and, if implemented correctly, can add to the security of a slab. In the future, I will contact PCGS to discuss the security of the system they developed. Maybe I will dust off my old hacker’s hat and reverse engineer one of these tags. Very few electronic devices are unhackable. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible.
In the future, the technology that will help collectors protect themselves must be made publicly available. The current state of image processing and artificial intelligence can be used to examine a coin’s surface. Aside from its ability to grade the coin, it could tell the difference between a legitimate coin and a counterfeit that uses an aluminum alloy.
In addition to adding technology, the U.S. Mint should follow the leads of the Royal Canadian Mint and the Royal Mint to add security features to bullion coins. After all, David Ryder spoke about security during his confirmation hearing. Where is the progress on that?
And now the news…