INSIGHTS

Countering Counterfeit Consumer Goods Proving Authenticity with Blockchain And Material Fingerprint Technology

Published 2018-11-22

With technology at our hands from the “Internet of Things” and “Blockchain” we still struggle to tackle counterfeit goods.  In today’s digital world, materials and assets that were previously unreachable are available from countless online marketplaces. But are they genuine? 
Unless a customer purchases an item at a reputable store, they can’t guarantee it’s the real thing.  Almost anything can be cloned - an exact replica with tags and logos to match. How do we know an item on an e-commerce site is counterfeit?  Even if it isn’t, how can we be sure it hasn’t been stolen and resold over the Internet?  This is costing the luxury consumer goods industry billions every year and law enforcement are fighting an uphill battle.  
What if the consumer herself could distinguish between an authentic item and a counterfeit item just using a mobile phone? What if honest second-hand e-commerce sites could prove that they are only selling authentic objects, and the buyer did not have to worry? What if this technology could be applied to art, bags, clothes, etc.?

An explosion of tagging and scanning technologies are available to protect and authenticate goods: QR codes, NFC & RFID chips, BLE and others.  Many rely on expensive scanning technologies or complex, new business processes.  Scanning equipment isn’t readily available outside of the production line or store and not to the consumer. Tagging and scanning don’t often traverse boundaries between corporations, reseller and consumers. The challenge is the transition between the physical and digital worlds, and making the tagging truly seamless between production, resellers, consumers, second-hand e-commerce sites etc.

United Vanning and our partners have solved this problem.  Septillion's Material Fingerprint technology can create a unique, unambiguous “fingerprint” detectable using a standard mobile camera.  Using patented technology a regular mobile phone photo can uniquely identify any item.  A private blockchain tracks ownership and responsibility for the item as it travels through production, supply chain, warehouse, retailers, consumers, e-commerce sites and second-hand purchases.

The "fingerprints" themselves are invisible to the naked eye and can be embedded in plastics, polymers, coatings, paint, cloth, and paper.  This unique solution can also tag items already in the consumer space, after authentication by a trusted party. High-value items can be tagged for insurance purposes in a way only the insurance company knows about.

For the consumer goods manufacturer, it is key to integrate the flow of information with production, inventory and supply chain systems with the blockchain. Retailers can connect to the blockchain to register the purchase.  Consumers can validate authenticity with the blockchain using a mobile app. They can send their blockchain receipt to insurance companies who can also validate via the blockchain. Consumers could also provide the blockchain “certificate” when selling their valuables on e-commerce sites. This will give an end-to-end view of how items flow from manufacturers through the supply chain to retailers and finally to consumers, and on the second-hand market. Law enforcement can validate the last legal purchaser of an item and easily detect counterfeit goods.

United Vanning is in a unique position to provide the Septillion “fingerprint” technology, blockchain platform and consumer mobile application in end-to-end solutions for manufacturers, retailers, e-commerce sites and insurance companies. Using the Digital Business Platform from Software AG , United Vanning connects people, devices, data and systems for process automation, API and device management, analytics visualisation for intelligent decisions and actions.

Item records mirror actual ownership, legitimate change of ownership, movement and location…

  • When a valuable item is stolen, the true registered owner can prove ownership
  • Luxury goods manufacturers can track geographically how their goods travel the world at each change of hands.
  • Tagging of items already in the consumer space after authentication by a trusted party will help counter insurance fraud and track down stolen goods
  • Police can validate the last legitimate owner of an item in real-time, and easily identify counterfeit products
  • Insurance companies can tag particularly valuable items
  • Retailers can incorporate consumer purchase registration into loyalty schemes
  • Item authentication and ownership can be validated by consumers when buying on second-hand e-commerce sites using a regular mobile phone
  • Unlock a wealth of information about your products in the second-hand market
  • Combine with IoT to surface contextual data about items throughout the supply chain at the point of reading
  • Unique identification of individual items and purchasers ensures exact fault reporting and personalised remedy processes
  • No dependency on tag readers

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