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Trusterras: An Enterprise Blockchain Platform For Product Authenticity

There is a significant amount of counterfeit, fake and unsafe products in the world market. This includes not not only luxury products but also pharmaceuticals, groceries, alcohol and food products. Counterfeiters ‘parasite’ on the reputation and quality of the brand names that were built and nourished for decades. This can harm the reputation of a company with severe consequences.

The core issue is that end customers as well as trade partners have no simple and fast way to check if a product is authentic. On the other hand, brand owners do not have an effective way to protect their products in a way that it is tamper proof but transparent. Bringing them together is ideal for businesses to protect the integrity of their products.

Trusterras provides a solution for (1) end customers, (2) brand owners and (3) trade partners to track and secure product authenticity. Trusterras enterprise permissioned blockchain-based system helps manufacturers to register their product in a blockchain and label them. End Customers as well as distributors and retailers can validate if a product is not a fake within seconds using Android or IOS devices. Customers can use a free app on their phone, while manufacturers, distributors and retailers can use Android or IOS apps in their warehouse scanning devices.

Our goal is to bring trust and transparency among brands, business partners and customers through a federated consortium. As a result the parties will experience the following benefits:

  • Customers can be assured to buy safe and authentic products
  • Manufacturers and brand owners can protect their brands with a tamper proof blockchain
  • Brands can get a better understanding of customer shopping preferences having products scans information and analytics at hand
  • Detecting red flags and fake products will be easier — the platform will inform the parties when suspicious activities take place
  • Distributors and Retailers can also validate product authenticity to ensure they do not trade counterfeit products
  • Trade secrets are kept private while the facts are recorded in an immutable Distributed Ledger
  • Partners can rely on efficient infrastructure. With a blockchain-based DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology), all partners receive the information in real time. What one partner will see in their database, is exactly what other partners will see as well

A more transparent system builds trust, which is what a consortium is for. No one can manipulate or tamper with the data once it has been recorded and verified on a blockchain. All data recorded must be verified by the members of the consortium through a consensus. This provides a recorded version of the truth, and it cannot be reversed once it has been committed.

Product Authenticity

To protect brands and their reputation, it is important to maintain product authenticity. One of the main problems in retail today is fraud and piracy in the black market. Fake goods that imitate top brands are commonly sold at cheaper prices. In the case of food and pharmaceuticals, they can be a public risk to health and safety because they are not authentic. Many fake products contain hazardous ingredients that can affect consumers overall well being. In retail, there is a loss of quality since fake brands do not have the durability for wear and tear (e.g. clothing, accessories, luxury items).

Counterfeiters know that fake goods can be seized and destroyed. That is why they are resorting to new tactics in which they not only imitate top brands, but also attempt to imitate their logo, tags and certificates. The bigger problem is that this can really fool consumers who would otherwise have no idea what is fake and what is original. That is why we aim to provide a way to verify the authenticity of products using a blockchain.

Federated Consortiums vs Individual Implementation

Brands Owners have the flexibility to choose to be part of a consortium of companies as well as implement the Product Authenticity platform individually. The benefits of an individual implementation is that all the information recorded in a blockchain is only accessible by the brand and customers providing privacy and confidentiality. However, the brand is solely responsible for the costs associated with platform maintenance and data storage i.e. cloud or on-premise.

The benefit of a consortium is that it consist of business partners who share some information and share the costs maintaining the system. The consortiums share a common business that is part of the production process in the supply chain. Other consortiums can be linked through a federation or federated consortiums. All members of these consortiums become part of the whole system that comprises the supply chain. Every product is referred to in the system as assets, which can be recorded on a distributed ledger database (i.e. blockchain) which each participating member of the consortium will have a copy of. These ensure transparency among the consortium’s members.

In the consortium, all manner of exchange of assets are recorded in order to not only provide transparency but immutability as well. It must first be agreed upon by consensus among the members. When a consensus has been reached, the transaction can be finalized and committed to the blockchain. Once committed, it cannot be reversed and is used for attestation of a transaction. The blockchain provides a layer of verification that also supports the provenance of transactions that have occurred within the supply chain.

How A Blockchain Provides Verification

A simple example can be used to explain how our system works. Supposed you have a consortium consisting of 3 business partners. You have Company A who produces branded purses. Company B is the distributor while Company C is the retailer. They all register in Trusterras Product Authenticity platform. Once Company A produced the purses and packaged them, they are off to Company B and then to Company C that will sell them in retail.

The products are proven to be authentic if they meet the criteria: which we will set for the consortium:

  • All purses originated only from Company A
  • Each purse is located where the retailer received it

If one or more of these criteria is false, then the product cannot be verified with a certificate of authenticity.

Using a blockchain-based ledger, Company A Brand can track the supply chain from beginning to end. We begin by defining the product (i.e. the purses) as an asset that is manufactured and packaged at Company A. When Company B takes the ownership of the asset, the occurrence of the exchange is recorded as a transaction on the blockchain which all members of the consortium will have a copy of for transparency. When a customer validates the product, he can see the history and authenticity. Finally, the sale is recorded as another transaction.

Other products like, for example, organic apples, food, medicine, alcohol can be secured by a blockchain system. Imagine that a customer could scan or tap a label and see if a product is genuine.

Label Copy Scenario

It is not a problem to copy any label details and add it to a fake product. Thus, the Trusterras Platform has a solution that counter strikes the scenario of label copying. We can expand more during a demo session.

Some other ideas on eliminating the possibility of copying label include the following:

  1. Introduce more strict processing of label printing. There is a possibility that authentic printed labels are used to package counterfeit products.
  2. Allow only authorized distributors and retailers to receive branded products.

Trust And Transparency

There are different problems within the supply chain. What our system aims to address and deliver is trust and transparency to solidify business relations. For brands to maintain their reputation it is important that their products are authentic, otherwise their value can go down. A system that builds trust among partners is also honest and open. There is nothing to conceal, but everything to reveal, and that is what makes the system more trustworthy.

We are looking forward for manufacturers/brand owners to be a part of our Trusterras Product Authenticity platform. Together we can build a system based on trust and transparency. We aim to explore different scenarios where authentic products are a vital part of the business, and provide a solution that works based on the requirements.

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Vincent Tabora

Editor HD-PRO, DevOps Trusterras (Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Software Development, Engineering, Photography, Technology)