NFC seal tackles bottle refilling problem

CapSeal imageTwo European firms have launched an anti-counterfeiting technology designed to stop bottles of wines and spirits being illicitly refilled.

The technology - called CapSeal - has been developed by France's Inside Secure and Selinko of Belgium and uses a near-field communication (NFC) tag - incorporated within a capsule that seals the neck of the bottle - to make it possible to tell if it has previously been opened.

"CapSeal is providing the wine and spirits industry with a unique and most secure solution to solve counterfeiting and refilling problems," according to the two companies. Selinko has provided the mobile app used to read and authenticate the chip.

The technology consists of a chip connected to an antenna that is inserted on the neck of the bottle, just above the cork. To prevent anyone from refilling a bottle, the tag is mechanically deactivated when removing the capsule bottle.

"The refilling of empty high-end bottles is now the gold standard for counterfeiters, especially in China," say the partners, who note that an empty bottle of grand cru Lafite has a black market value of up to $450.

The technology is compatible with existing corks and capsule bottles, so wines and spirits can "solve the refill problem without replacing their standard corks and bottle caps," they add.

According to market analysts, 20 per cent of wine sold worldwide is counterfeit, rising to 50 per cent in some Asian countries.

Last year, Selinko reported that it had implemented an NFC-based authentication system for Bordeaux winemaker Château Le Pin, although in this case the NFC chip was concealed behind the wine label, as well as California's Buccella.

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