Blockchain’s Anti-Counterfeiting Characteristics Can Benefit the Luxury Goods Market
How Blockchain Can Save Goods From Counterfeit Industry
Although it may seem like a far-off idea, we are surrounded by counterfeit goods.
From fashion and retail products to software, electronics, digital media, piracy, and intellectual property, reports put the cost of counterfeiting somewhere around $600bn a year in the US alone. In fact, the International Chamber of Commerce predicts that 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.”
In fact, the federal government recently seized nearly a half-billion dollars worth of counterfeit luxury goods in New York. Belts, purses, and bags made to look like those from Gucci, Hermes, and Tory Burch was impounded. It was enough to fill more than 20 shipping containers!
This obstacle lies in a lack of both consumer awareness and available tools for companies to combat the problem. And while it may not be a panacea for all counterfeiting, blockchain does offer options to help with both issues.
Unfortunately, international laws, cooperation, regulation, and enforcement have not been very effective in reducing the number of counterfeit goods making it into consumers hands. Their ineffectuality comes down to a number of things:
- The wide scope of consumer products available.
- Faults and a lack of transparency in supply chains, including manufacturing, transport and logistics, and sales.
- Cost of enforcement (monetary and human resources).
- Lack of resources and enforcement capabilities to reduce/enforce IP law.
- Huge increases in international freight and trade, and subsequently the logistics involved.
How Does Blockchain Solve The Problem?
The first and most obvious solution provided by the blockchain is a redesign of the supply chain. It’s very nature as a decentralized ledger, that is able to store a complete history of transactions on a shared database, means that we can trace a products movements across the world.
Moreover, with clever innovations we can now track every link in the supply chain, from manufacturer, to distributor, to freight and transport, to customs and finally to the retailer, with each step along the way contributing data to a network that can prove the origin of the product, trace its ownership, and provide authentication.
The fact that the information in this ledger can be accessed from anywhere in the world using a smartphone means we now have a very real means of ensuring that the consumer at the end of the supply chain is receiving the product they expect to.
This also places power back into the hands of the consumer, who can access the same information as retailers, transforming their understanding of the product, its origins, and the manufacturing process, allowing for more informed, and ethical, consumer choices.