Rakuten, Japan’s largest e-commerce company, has partnered with Techrock which runs a China-based e-commerce store which only provides authenticated products. The deal enables Chinese customers to purchase from Rakuten via Techrock.
Fake goods are a significant issue in China. Techrock is addressing the issue by attaching NFC smart packaging to every product. Using the tag the goods are authenticated along the supply chain, and the actions are logged on a blockchain. The products are available in offline retail outlets as well as through the dedicated WeChat store.
The company has a narrow range of products where authenticity is important. Baby nutrition is one area that is particularly sensitive in China. In 2008 contaminated infant formula resulted in six babies dying from kidney damage and 54,000 hospitalized. More recently there have been multiple infant vaccine controversies.
Other Techrock products include nutritional supplements and cosmetics.
“Techrock’s anti-counterfeit technology allows Chinese consumers to verify they have received a genuine Rakuten product, giving a unique value advantage for cross-border e-commerce,” said Ye Jianyou, Deputy Senior Manager of Rakuten. “Together with Techrock, we can further develop blockchain traceability and work towards cross-ecosystem integration of our platforms’ loyalty points.”
Additionally, Techrock customers participate in a blockchain loyalty token called Tael. Users earn Tael by touching the Techrock label to verify authenticity, purchasing products and referring friends. And merchants can purchase tokens to provide promotions.
It’s another one of those gray areas where a token-backed company is functioning in China. Tael raised $11.5 million in an ICO at the end of 2017.