I get regular emails from both of the major "slabbing" (ie independent grading) companies in the US regarding their activities, one of them (NGC) has just announced several new innovations to their services that should be of interest to collectors that use them.
The first is the innovation of capturing and storing digital images of the coins being "slabbed". This simple addition to NGC's services will mean that any potential buyer that has a concern about the legitimacy of a prospective purchase will be able to check the online NGC image database to determine if the coin they are being offered is the coin that had been slabbed or not. Although I don't use NGC's services (I don't believe their grading of Australian coins has been accurate or consistent enough to warrant doing so), I can see how their US clients would welcome this innovation.
The second innovation they've come up with is the change made to the way in which the coins are stored within the holders - the coins now sit within four prongs that allow the egde of the coin to be easily viewed.
I understand that the market for slabbing (independent authentication and grading) of US coins is a very competitive market between NGC and PCGS - I'll be interested to see what the reaction of PCGS is to the two innovations mentioned here by NGC - they'll have to follow suit!
It is unfortunate that a large number of Australian collectors have purchased NGC graded coins under the assumption that the grades on the "slabs" are the equivalent to the adjectival grades used by most Australian dealers, as unfortunately this isn't the case. Any collector looking to purchase "slabbed" coins needs to be aware that the McDonald catalogue value for a coin in a certain grade doesn't necessarily apply to a slabbed coin with that grade written on it. As the sagely wisdom goes - buy the coin, and not the holder.