||Euro note to
be radio tagged?
May 22, 2003
Euro note to be radio tagged?
By Winston Chai, CNETAsia
Thursday, May 22 2003 9:59 AM
Radio tags the size of a grain of sand could be embedded in the
euro note if a rumored deal between the European Central Bank (ECB)
and Japanese electronics maker Hitachi is signed.
The firm has leaked to Japanese news agency Kyodo that the ECB
has started talks with it about the use of its radio chip on the
The ECB is deeply concerned about counterfeiting and money laundering
and is said to be looking at radio tag technology.
Last year, Greek authorities were confronted with of 2,411 counterfeiting
cases and seized 4,776 counterfeit bank notes while authorities
in Poland nabbed a gang suspected of making and putting over a million
fake euros into circulation.
To add to the problem, businesses also find it hard to judge a
note's authenticity as current equipment cannot tell between bogus
currency and old notes with worn-out security marks. Among the security
features in current euros are threads visible under ultraviolet
"The main objective is to determine the authenticity of money
and to stop counterfeits," said Prianka Chopra, an analyst
with market research firm Frost and Sullivan in report published
"RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags also have the
ability of recording information such as details of the transactions
the paper note has been involved in. It would, therefore, also prevent
money-laundering, make it possible to track illegal transactions
and even prevent kidnappers demanding unmarked bills," Chopra
Besides acting as a digital watermark, the use of radio chips could
speed up routine bank processes such as counting. With such tags,
a stack of notes can be passed through a reader with the sum added
in a split-second, similar to how inventory is tracked in an RFID-based
The euro came into circulation on Jan.1 last year, with twelve
countries have adopting it as standard currency. These are Austria,
Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,
Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
If the ECB-Hitachi deal proves successful, the project could involve
the use of tiny radio tags, a feat which Hitachi claims to have
In February, the Japanese firm said it has successfully operated
the world's smallest non-contact chip measuring only a third of
a millimeter across.
Hitachi said its so-called "mu-chip" is capable of wireless
transmitting a 128-bit number when radio signals are beamed at it.
In a euro note, the number could contain a serial code, as well
as details such as place of origin and denomination.
Data can only be written on the chip's ROM during production, and
not after it is out "in the wild", the company said.
Hitachi's minuscule chip has been selected for use in admission
tickets for Japan's international expo, which will be held in the
country's Aichi Prefecture in 2005.
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