Fighting against counterfeiting thanks to NFTs in wine

France is afraid “, would have said the presenter of the television news Roger Gicquel. ” Our customers are worried », announces in the same serious tone the winemaker Louis-Michel Liger-Belair. The cause of this fear? ” There is a lot of talk of fakes in the world of wine, explains the Burgundian. We have had little experience with this phenomenon, but we know that it is not difficult to make a fake bottle, despite the numerous protections put in place by the producers. Since I don’t want to have to personally react at the last moment to a problem like this, I decided to take the lead with my own solution. »

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Fraud and counterfeiting: a scourge that affects tens of thousands of bottles worldwide every year. Within the institutions in charge of control, the most pessimistic claim that 20% of the international wine trade would be affected. The subject is not new. Ancient writings recount maneuvers to color wine and other subterfuges. Stories of misleading mixtures, falsifications of names and false labels have punctuated the history of this small world. In France, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) monitors the regularity of microcosm operations, supported by nine wine and spirits investigation teams. However, the global trade in vintages has intensified. The community remembers the case of Rudy Kurdiawan, an Indonesian counterfeiter, counterfeiter of burgundies from the Rousseau estate, Château de la Tour and dozens of other grands crus.

Today, as more and more bottles are exchanged on the web, many intermediaries – traders, online auction specialists… – take on the role of authenticators, but with varying skills and sometimes morality. modulated by business interests, say some producers. For his part, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair considers that it is up to the winemaker to guarantee the authenticity of the production to the various buyers. Its solution is called Wokenwine, named after a new Luxembourg-based company created by financier Valéry Lux, “ a wine lover and consumer who has been confronted with questionable bottles, but also a passionate about new technologies and a great connoisseur of issues related to the blockchain », explains Louis-Michel Liger-Belair. The latter is himself a 20% shareholder of this platform which associates each bottle with an NFT, that is to say a digital format acting as an unfalsifiable certificate of authenticity because recorded on the blockchain.

By having the chip and the number of the bottle, it is enough to connect to the platform to identify the bottle as well as its origin and its route. Wokenwine will associate the chip with a color code: it will be green when the wine is still stored at the winemaker, yellow when it is with the intermediaries, black when the bottle is drunk “, explains Liger-Belair.

It will then remain to make known the existence of Wokenwine and the association of certain wines with NFTs which could encourage buyers to check the authenticity of the bottles during the acquisition. This system could limit the movement of wines. Once a bottle is stored in a suitable place, the change of owner could be reduced to a simple modification of its code, without any movement. ” This can avoid having bottles that travel tens of thousands of kilometers before being sold, continues Louis-Michel Liger-Belair. Beyond issues of inventory handling and strict protection against fakes, it’s also about who drinks the wine and how they drink it. I’m interested in identifying good clients that I don’t know and meeting them. From July, he himself plans to associate 3,000 bottles of his production with this system, which fluctuates between 20,000 and 30,000 bottles each year.
How much will this protective device cost the interested parties? ” It is still under discussion. For the producer, we want this to correspond to less than 10% of the price of the bottle. It also remains to be determined whether the intermediaries will participate in the cost of this technology.»

Wokenwine will not be, far from it, the only player in the NFT market associated with the security of wine exchanges. Other systems offer to equip the bottles with an RFID tag guaranteeing the link between the bottle of wine and the information contained in the blockchain. For a year, the sector has been in full swing. Large groups are multiplying initiatives. Last October, Dom Pérignon champagne presented one hundred bottles designed with Lady Gaga and their NFT versions, which were sold in a virtual space. Château Angélus, in Saint-Émilion, and the Australian brand Penfolds are following the movement, like many others, mixing announcement effect, the desire to be in tune with the times, the fight against fraud and the desire to trace precisely high value products. The wine lover should emerge a winner from the implementation of these new devices, provided that it does not rhyme with an excessively high cost of the bottle.

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Fighting against counterfeiting thanks to NFTs in wine


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