Cryptomice wins EU blockchain anti-counterfeit challenge

Team Cryptomice was the overall winner of the EU Blockathon 2018, which challenged developers to come up with a way to use blockchain to fight counterfeit goods.

The competition – run over two days last month – saw 11 teams duel for the overall prize of coming up with a model that, if all goes to plan, could underpin the future EU anti-counterfeiting infrastructure.

Cryptomice, led by Italian Thomas Rossi, won the overall competition, edging out Team Fides which was captained by Tobias Kars of Switzerland.

The winning team’s solution involved the creation of a virtual twin of a product – which cannot be cloned or falsified – and is linked to the physical product and registered on the blockchain. Only the virtual twin together with the physical product confirm the authenticity of the product, so if the twin is absent the authenticity of the product is called not question.

The team says it is looking for feedback from brand owners and partners who could help it take its solution into pilot testing.

There were also three category challenges – aimed at consumers, customs and logistics – and the consumer and customs categories were won by team Fides for its Goodchain solution which combines unique QR codes and blockchain and links the entire process to a donation system for social causes, as well as providing product authentication.

When applying the QR code to a product, the brand makes a pledge for a certain number of “impact points” in relation to a social cause. Along the supply chain, certification bodies will check that the authentic product is moving through the chain and confirm this with a certificate which will allow customs to fast-track the goods through the system.

When scanning the purchased product, the consumer can scan the code and donate the impact point to the social cause, triggering a donation from the brand owner. Fides says it is already in discussion with partners with a view to setting up a pilot study.

Cryptomice was runner up in both the consumer and customs categories, sharing the second spot in the latter with team The Pirate Busters, another QR code-based platform that also incorporated near-field communication (NFC) technology in addition to blockchain.

The Pirate Busters’ approach – called TrustTrack – used QR codes at the individual pack level and NFC and a temper-evident seal for shipping cartons. The approach could allow intact shipments to be fast-tracked through customs, freeing up resources, and could also incorporate a reward scheme to incentivise consumer authentications.

The team says that the solution would be of particular use to small businesses and for small parcel consignments, and is looking to find a partner and identify brands and freight forwarders for a pilot.

Finally, the logistics category was won by Cryptomice, with team Seal’s Self Sovereign Digital Twins/Rootbox platform taking second place. In this case, each product carries a tamper-proof NFC chip that cannot be duplicated itself, and is registered on the blockchain. Aside from allowing smartphone authentication, the system also deploys ‘smart contracts’, “which can be used to settle import tariffs directly when you claim ownership of the product,” according to its developers.

They also propose a new economic model based on a small fee being paid to the manufacturer when ownership of its product changes, “so brands can make money on aftersales, multiple times over the course of the product lifecycle.

As a next step, the team is looking into partnering with a brand of luxury goods as well as a packaging/logistics company for a pilot project.”

According t the European Commission, “blockchain technologies…are seen as a major breakthrough, as they bring about high levels of traceability and security in online economic transactions by providing trust in the eco-system.”

“They are expected to impact digital services and transform business models in a wide range of areas, such as intellectual property, healthcare, insurance, finance, energy, logistics and government services.”

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