First used in the pharmaceutical industry to keep track of high-impact drugs like anti-malaria tablets and tuberculosis medication, which was causing havoc in third world countries, Blockchain technology, inspired by the digital trail of Bitcoin, records the chain of transaction permanently so you can track the item from roots to ownership. Immutable by design, the code allows each person in a supply train to check, and verify, the origins of a single product and its destination.
Block Verify, one of the companies using this technology, has now set its sights on the luxury sector with encrypted chips that, when scanned, will provide a similar data trail. Used to not only instill confidence in the customer when buying an item from a department store or independent online retailer, the chips are also an advantage for resale purposes as they verify the authenticity of the item, which can be anything from a Dior bag to rare diamond. The chip can also be traced within a certain radius, meaning any products that are stolen from the supply chain route or after they are in the hands of the owner, can potentially be recovered, an asset that could save high-end designers thousands of dollars a year.
Illegal items seized from a Hong Kong counterfeit ring
A reported $450 Billion illegal trade, the industry reportedly funds other felonies including drug trafficking, child slavery and even terrorism through the sale of these items which are quick and cheap to produce. Among the most popular counterfeit brands are Nike, Ray-Ban, Rolex, Prada and Louis Vuitton, mostly created in China and South East Asia. Not just an issue for buyers, 3rd party sellers like Amazon and Alibaba have also vowed to fight counterfeit movements by increasing their efforts to remove illegal items from their websites and blocking the sale of rogue products.