The News @ Validactor - The Global Anti-counterfeiting solution

Validactor at the Gitex Future Stars during the GITEX week in Dubai

Starting October 6th till October 9th 2019 Validactor will exhibit at the Gitex Future Stars during the GITEX week in Dubai.
Validactor is one of the Italian selected Startups invited by ICE/ITA to participate at the Italian Pavillon located at the Za'abeel Hall 4 in Dubai World Trade center

"We are thrilled to participate for the second year to the Gitex Technology Week as we think this is the best opportunity for us to gain visibility in the MENA Area." Said Dino Sergiano founder and Business Manager of Validactor. "This is a unique opportunity to enter a number of fast growing markets willing to benefit from a secure technology such as the Validactor platform".

Validactor is a fast growing company, fully devoted to combat the counterfeit businesses, the fakes markets and any kind of adulteration potentially causing a threat to customers. We fight this battle empowering both manufacturers and final customers with a full set of easy-to-use and easy-to-implement tools. Any kind of smartphone is the most powerful weapon to win this battle.
Along with anti-counterfeit features, Validactor offer a full set of services aimed at strengthen customer-manufacturer relations

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The return of the QR Code and China’s obsession to it

few days ago, I had a LinkedIn discussion with Richard Turrin on QR Codes and their relevance in today’s go-cashless world. A few commentators on the post felt QR codes were the thing of the post, and I had a different view. I believe, in a world that’s getting digitised in a hurry, QR code is what bridges the digital world with brick and mortar.

QR Codes have gone through ups and downs since they were first created in 1994 by Japan’s automobile industry. QR – stood for “Quick Response”. However, those were days when mobile phones were clunky and the user journeys weren’t as friction-free as the ones we have these days.

When a customer scanned a QR code, an app or a website would be launched on the mobile using EDGE or GPRS. Once the website came up, users would have to use the clunky interface to fill in relevant details. I guess, that was enough to kill the QR code – or so many thought at that time.

QR Codes are more efficient than Barcodes because they are able to hold more information than Barcodes. This is because, QR codes have a two dimensional layout, where as with Barcodes it is just a one dimensional horizontal layout. And purely from a marketing perspective, QR Codes can be customised with a firm’s brand on it, unlike bar codes.

Utility of QR Codes seem better than Barcodes. But are they safe to store our information? For example, can I store my bank card details in a QR code and claim it is more secure? It certainly is – atleast in most scenarios.

Credit card thefts and frauds come in different shapes and forms. Even in a contactless payment mode, account details are still transmitted to the point of sale (PoS) device. So if the PoS device is hacked, hackers can get hold of the customer’s payment details. If at the point of sale, there is an issue with the internet, the customer experience could be poor.

The other hiccup is the case of lost devices, as QR codes do not check for user identity. This can however be overcome by asking for biometric information from the user at the time of registering. It could also be a selfie of the user at registration. At the point of sale, the device using QR codes, may have to use some ways of identifying the user.

Since QR codes rely on Wi-Fi networks, a hacker could get into the network and overlay fake QR codes. And then there is this issue of different variations of QR codes released by different vendors. There needs to be standards for ease of use from a customer’s stand point.

Despite some of these downsides, what makes QR codes special?

Expanding mobile internet and
Smartphones adoption.
With better internet access and smartphone penetration, QR codes have become more common place in Asia. Smartphone penetration in China has risen to 63% and to 35% in Asia as a whole. In Latin America (Argentina), customers have taken to QR codes as it is a simple interface for the unbanked to perform digital transactions.

Pictures showing Alipay and WeChat QR codes in China and PayTM QR Codes in India have brought the concept back to life – in a big way. In India, PayTM are running campaigns to get millions of small and medium entreprises onto QR Codes. In Africa, firms like Dumapay are using QRCode to simplify the point of sale payments process. It has become easy for a roadside shop to accept payments using a QR code print out and no Point of Sale device.

Apart from payments, QR Codes can be used for several other interactions. They can be use for

Offering discounts,
Sending a pre-defined message,
Sharing contact details
Embedded pricing information
Linking to marketing videos or pages

As QR Codes are versatile, most top apps like Pinterest, Snapchat, Wechat and device manufacturers like Xiaomi, Motorola, Samsung, Huawei all have inbuilt QR Code readers.

But in the wrong hands, QR Codes can be used to lead a customer to a malicious page and get hacked in the process. There is definitely caution needed when using QR Codes.

It may be hard for the west to embrace QR Codes like Asia, Latin America (in some parts) and even Africa. But several firms across the world are creating their own customised QR Codes to stay relevant. QR Codes may not have succeeded in the past and they may not be the future either. But they most certainly have a place in the present.



Spotting counterfeit alcohol.

Costa Rica's Health Ministry has updated the death toll of people poisoned by tainted alcohol in the central American country, which is popular with American tourists.

The agency said in a press release that of the 59 people hospitalized for ingesting tainted alcohol, 25 have died. It also noted that the dead include 19 men and six women between the ages of 32 and 72.

The Ministry of Health said it had closed 10 establishments and seized more than 55,000 containers of alcohol it said were laced with methanol, a colorless, poisonous alcohol found in antifreeze.

Adding methanol to distilled beverages allows sellers to increase the volume of liquid, as well as its potential potency, according to SafeProof, an organization that lobbies against counterfeit alcohol.

"The Costa Rica Tourism Institute reaffirms that no tourists have been affected by adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica, and that visitor safety is priority," Thalia Guest, a representative for the Costa Rica Tourism Board, said in a statement to USA TODAY. "The local authorities continue to monitor the situation and work to understand and remain transparent about the investigation."

Costa Rica: Tainted alcohol death toll rises to 25; 59 people affected overall

Here's what we know about counterfeit alcohol overseas and how you can identify and avoid it.

What is counterfeit alcohol?

What is often used as a catch-all term for unregulated booze is actually a fraudulent imitation of a legitimate product through tampering or refilling it with toxic forms of alcohol such as methanol (wood-distilled) or ethanol (grain-distilled).

Other forms of unregulated alcohol can include:

Informal: Local artisanal or homebrewed beverages, which may or or may not be regulated

Contraband: Liquor smuggled across the border to avoid taxes and tariffs

Non-conforming: Beverages made by manufacturers who do not adhere to accepted bottling or labeling procedures, including products made with ethyl alcohol, or other solvents that make it unsuitable for human consumption

Tax leakage: Legally produced beverages for which taxes were not paid

Surrogate: Liquids not intended for drinking but consumed anyway; may be legal for non-recreational uses

Which countries have issues with tainted alcohol?

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking pointed to at least 25 nations in a June 2018 study. The group is comprised of 11 major alcoholic beverage manufacturers including Anheuser Busch, Heineken and Molson Coors, and they want unregulated alcohol brought under greater governmental control.

In Costa Rica, illicit alcohol makes up 19% of total sales. It's even higher in Mexico (34%) and in the Dominican Republic (29%), where several U.S. tourists were said to have been sickened or died after drinking from the minibars in their rooms.

Last week, the Dominican Republic's Ministry of Tourism announced it would be amping up safety protocols, including new rules for hotels' handling of food and alcohol and greater transparency about their food and beverage suppliers.

Costa Rica deaths: See the brands linked to tainted alcohol fatalities

Dominican Republic enacts new rules: Food and drink inspections to become stricter after tourist deaths

In all, Central and South America accounted for more than half the countries on the list along with seven African countries (where the numbers ranged from 23% in South Africa to 61% in Uganda). Two Eastern European countries were also cited: Russia (38%) and the Czech Republic (7%).

How can I avoid it?

Don't buy bargain bin liquor: If you've never heard of the label or the price sounds too good to believe, there's a good chance the booze is likely counterfeit, says the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a joint effort between the State Department and private sector groups dedicated to studying security threats against U.S. interests overseas. The group says such beverages may be watered down with jet fuel, antifreeze or other chemicals that are toxic to humans.

Read the packaging: "Look out for poor quality labeling, including spelling mistakes and tampered bottles," the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, an industry trade group, recommends.

Avoid homebrews: Trying bootlegged local booze may sound like an adventure or the fodder of future drinking stories but it could well land you in the hospital or the morgue. OSAC points to cases in Uttar Pradesh India, where 31 people died and 160 were hospitalized after drinking homebrew laced with methyl alcohol.

Contributing: Susan Haas, Vandana Ravikumar, USA TODAY