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A San Francisco-based startup called “Real Items Foundation” is beta testing a Shopify plugin to ensure that authentic items are being sold to online shoppers.
The plugin –- powered by a combination of blockchain technology and a cloud-based application called “TAM” –- enables brands to generate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that are pegged to physical assets. Consumers who purchase a product containing an NFT can scan that item to verify its authenticity.
CEO and founder of Real Items Foundation, David Menard, says that a number of skincare, cosmetic, wellness and fashion companies are currently private beta testing the Shopify plugin. Menard noted that the plugin will officially be released in Q1 of this year.
According to Menard, Real Items Foundation aims to create a global consumer protection experience, which he refers to as “consumer protection 3.0.” He explained that the new Shopify plugin will allow consumers to easily verify the authenticity of the items purchased on Shopify stores, without having to download additional apps: “We are trying to push consumer protection 3.0 by putting the tools in the end consumers’ hands. There are no apps to download – consumers simply use their smartphones to scan a QR-code to verify the authenticity of an item. Consumers can also use WeChat to scan items to ensure that they are real.” Shopify, which has grown to become one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world, consists of over 500 thousand active online stores. Recent statistics show that Shopify is the third-largest online retailer in the US, right behind Amazon and eBay.
Yet with millions of products being sold each year, fraudulent items are becoming problematic for a number of online consumers. The Washington Post recently reported that 753 online retailers misrepresent their products, and about 90 percent of those sites are hosted by Shopify.
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