Increasingly, an important aspect of consumer protection is to secure the supply chain by implementing traceability and counterfeit protection. It is important to distinguish between anti-counterfeiting solutions and supply chain technologies. Combining holograms and QR codes will not be the solution.
In few words, a QR code is generally used as a track and trace system or to provide useful information about the product. On the other hand, the hologram is used as an anti-counterfeiting solution. It is understandable that the customer may become a bit confused by the utility of these solutions. Therefore, the authentication system is not an asset. It is imperative to understand the differences.
Authentication or traceability
Anti-counterfeit measures play an essential role to ensure that products are genuine. For the consumer, knowing they are getting a genuine product is extremely important, allowing them to safely use the product without risk of being injured, poisoned or even worse.
Traceability, on the other hand, will not only help the brand to manage the supply chain but can also provide very useful information about the product origin for the consumer. For instance, knowing that the gold you buy is coming from a responsible mine which does not exploit child labor can be valuable information.
Several industries think that combining hologram and QR code is the best way to ensure a safe product for their customer while at the same time providing a traceability system. However, it is not the case. This problem could generate such serious consequences as creating health risks or causing grave danger, for example, in the automotive industry with a physical product such as fake brake pads. Obviously, the end customer is not the only one affected by these fraudulent attacks. The company is directly impacted by this problem. The company’s reputation is directly affected. Therefore, brand protection allows protection of the health and safety of the customer and importantly the company’s reputation as well. Find out more by clicking here.
The QR code and its functions
QR codes are becoming extremely popular among brand owners to provide the consumer with further information about the product. They can even be used as a marketing tool, for instance, to inform consumers about promotions or discounts. A dedicated application is generally provided by the brand owner to read the QR code. This technology is widely used on many different products and consumers have grown accustomed to using their smartphones and scanning them.
QR code is not a secured solution
However, a standard QR code is not a security feature. Very often consumers mistake it as an extra security feature. It, when used as a traceability tool, can easily be copied and therefore cannot be seen as tangible line of defense against counterfeiting. If a banknote only contained a QR code as a method of protection, it would be simply bypassed by criminal gangs and fraudulent notes would flood the cash market.
Combination of technologies
Brand owners are quickly becoming conscious of the fact that QR Codes are not an anti-counterfeiting solution and not a safe traceability tool. We are now seeing many different combinations of authentication technologies being used. Traceability is no longer revered as the future of product security. However, we have to be careful not to give consumers a false sense of security. For example, combining a hologram with a QR code can be problematic and, in some instances, dangerous. Consumers are accustomed to scanning QR codes but are in general not able to check the authenticity of a hologram.
Identifying a real anti-counterfeiting solution is hard
For consumers, holograms are an easy to find and visible security feature. However, here too we find issues. Fake and genuine holograms can appear identical with the genuine hologram’s sophisticated color and image changes known only to company officials. A consumer may see a copy of a hologram, fail to inspect it and assume the product is genuine. It may even be the case that consumers ignore the presence of the hologram and therefore completely skip checking it before scanning the QR code.
It is well known that consumers will generally run a one-step process. This means, a consumer may scan the QR code and consider the product genuine when receiving the traceability information. The hologram, although equally necessary to authenticate the product, may be ignored. The same is of course true for any other authentication technology combined with a QR code.
Solutions made for you
It is true that the QR code is a very convenient technology for consumers. Yet, it must be stated that the best way to protect your product is by reinforcing the QR code with the ability to act as an anti-counterfeiting feature. These give the ability for a product to be authenticated in one single step without the consumer even knowing or seeing it. It could be done by either creating a Secured QR Code or by adding a specific covert security feature next to the QR code; such as a Cryptoglyph.
Secured QR code
To conclude, when it comes to protecting your product and your customers, there are many great methods out there. Yet as counterfeiting becomes increasingly complex, it is no longer possible to rely on one overt anti-counterfeiting technology.
At AlpVision, we are dedicated to creating invisible technologies that are easy to use but make products impossible to counterfeit.