Having bought a pair of expensive long distance running shoes from a high-end retail store, Julius Amrit got suspicious when he found discolouration in the fabric. He spent the next few hours on the internet trying to find out how to identify a counterfeit product. A day later he finally found out that he had bought a fake.
A friend from the footwear industry then told him about some identifying features that indicate the genuineness of any pair of shoes.
“I was shocked that even buying from branded stores was no longer safe…counterfeits were entering almost all categories of branded products,” says Amrit. He began investigating and found that very little information is available to consumers to check for genuine products.
Realising the need for a portal where consumers can get information on how to check for genuine products, he spoke to his friend Tanmay Jaswal, who was heading the global anti-counterfeit division of a large MNC at that time. He was pleasantly surprised that Jaswal was facing the same problem from the opposite end, that of engaging consumers for his global anti-counterfeiting programmes. “Getting consumers on to a brand’s platform to check for anti-counterfeit products was a serious challenge,” mentioned Jaswal. That’s when they decided to get together and set up Chkfake Brand Protection Solutions in August 2015.
The team launched an app, Chkfake, last year for users to check authenticity of global currency notes. Amrit comments: “Chkfake is the world’s only app which offers this solution. Almost all central banks regularly launch new features on their currencies. These complex security features are extremely difficult for counterfeiters to copy and at the same time also difficult for users to check. It is important for users to know about these features and protect themselves.”
Chkfake makes identifying and checking these features easy in three simple steps, Search – Select – Verify. Users just have to download the app, search for their currency note and the app will assist the user to locate and verify the security features in the note. The app is free, available on Google Play Store or Apple App Store, and is updated regularly for users to check the latest features on notes issued by central banks. With a fast-growing global user base, new currencies are being added for wider coverage.
Chkfake has since added on its platform several other categories of products that are high on the counterfeit list. The plan is to launch new categories every month where a fake product can have serious repercussions for the user. “Chkfake is working with brands, agencies and institutions for creating more consumer engaging solutions,” says Amrit.
Non-disclosure terms do not allow the firm to share these names. However, the team did share that it is in talks with larger international brands, global agencies and institutions in vulnerable sectors to create a common platform for consumer education and engagement. In several anti-counterfeit forums, industry veterans have pointed out that Chkfake is what the industry needs to protect consumers.
Chkfake team has partnered with leading global anti-counterfeit technology companies to integrate their solutions onto its platform and is adding more partners each month. “With mobile phones introducing high quality sensors even on inexpensive phones and sophisticated accessories being developed worldwide,users will be able to identify fakes more easily using the Chkfake platform,” says Amrit. The company is now expanding its tech team to computer vision, augmented reality, machine learning and AI to enhance user experience and versatility of the platform.
Self-funded till October last year, the experienced team has been working on stealth mode for over a year. It closed a seed round of investment in November last year and will be opening their Pre-SeriesA round next month.