Yasseen Saad

Blockchain technology might just be a counterfeiter’s worst nightmare

The counterfeit goods market has been growing in correlation with the rise of eCommerce. Although several measures have been taken to halt the flow of these phony goods, counterfeiters have proven to be relentless and the uptrend continues. Brands are in dire need of a permanent solution to this crisis, and they’re turning towards blockchain technology. 

Just how serious of a problem is counterfeiting?

When shopping online, customers don’t actually see or feel whatever they’re purchasing until it arrives at their front door. A brand’s reputation can be severely damaged if a low quality counterfeit is mistaken as the real thing. Even worse, a human being’s health is at stake when consumable goods such as pharmaceuticals are forged.  

The monetary impact of counterfeits not only impact victimized brands’ revenues, but it affects the entire global economy on a multi-trillion dollar scale. In fact, according to The International Chamber of Commerce, “The negative impacts of counterfeiting and piracy are projected to drain US$4.2 trillion from the global economy and put 5.4 million legitimate jobs at risk by 2022.”  This is an eye-opening statistic that sadly, few people are fully aware of. 

Also, a country that lacks the ability to filter out these counterfeit goods from entering their grounds is not an attractive destination for investors and innovators who could have potentially contributed to the country’s economy. 

Implementing obstacles, not permanent solutions

Luxury brands are working with government entities to come up with solutions to the counterfeiting problem. While governments have been training their border and customs officials to spot these fake goods from the packaging used, brands have developed technologies to add to their merchandise such as holograms, RFID and NFC. While these are steps in the right direction, they are still just obstacles in the way of the relentless counterfeiters. 

The world needs a permanent technological solution to end counterfeiting once and for all — enter blockchain technology. 

By design, blockchain technology can end counterfeiting  

Using blockchain technology as a database, or product registry, where goods can be digitally registered can legitimately put a stop to counterfeiting. Due to its permanent, transparent and decentralized attributes, a blockchain enables anyone, anywhere in the world, to be able to authenticate any good that has been registered on the blockchain – the level of transparency is unrivaled by any existing technology.

During a joint hearing held on May 8, 2018 at the U.S. House of Representatives “Leveraging Blockchain Technology to Improve Supply Chain Management and Combat Counterfeit Goods,” Dr. Douglas Maughan, cyber security director for the Department of Homeland Security, stated that blockchain technology “holds the potential for enhanced transparency and auditing of public service operations, greater supply chain visibility to combat the distribution of counterfeit products, and automation of paper-based processes to improve delivery of services to organizations and citizens”. Governments are recognizing the potential of blockchain technology and are exploring implementation methods as we speak.

Arianee is a great project that is utilizing blockchain technology to build the first perpetual, anonymous and trusted record of all global assets. Their protocol adds an extra layer of authenticity verification through a digital authenticity certificate that is stored on the blockchain in a digital vault and smart-linked back to the brand. This allows brands to have a product registry of all of the authenticity certificates they’re ever distributed and it also opens up a communication channel between brand and owner that has never existed before.   

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