PFC Levski received the prize for the 2018 Most Innovative IT Project for integrating blockchain against counterfeit of merchandise

PFC Levski received the prize for the 2018 Most Innovative IT P
roject for the integration of a blockchain-based solution to protect the intellectual property of the club’s merchandise.

Currently, Levski is among the few clubs in the world to use such an innovative solution for this purpose.

The award ceremony for the winners for the 2018 edition of the traditional IT Project of the Year Contest took place on February 19, 2019. The competition was organised for the fifteenth consecutive year by ICT Media through  Computerworld Bulgaria and the aim of the initiative was to presented the most significant, large-scale and efficient IT projects for the construction and use of information systems and solutions in Bulgarian companies, enterprises and institutions on a national scale in the respective year of the competition.

Twenty-four IT projects were involved in the contested race.

Why does PFC Levski integrate a blockchain-based system to protect the intellectual property of the club?

Blockchain technology is increasingly being used to counter fake products. The latest application of this method was implemented in Bulgaria by PFC Levski together with the company ReCheck

Major business challenges

The main issues and challenges for the assignor are the marketing and sale of informal / counterfeit fan-items by third parties who do not have the original products or license. The challenges in question have a negative effect on PFC Levski / the brand and the fans – the end users.

The purpose and specific tasks in solving the problem are to present a solution in the form of electronic media – NFC tags, QR codes, serial numbers to provide the original products of the club. With the utmost ease for users, fans scan the identifiers with their mobile devices and get quick access to the item information to make sure they are authenticated.

IT solution

The proposed solution is aimedto create a separate digital identity for each product – similar to a digital twin of an item, with which it is identified on a blockchain. Virtual copy of data cannot be manipulated – circumstantial information about its creation and ownership is reflected in a time stamp, available to anyone who wants to be sure of its authenticity.

The IT infrastructure of the solution is a private blockchain network that stores information on a decentralised basis. Transactions for programming, transferring, and storing information are performed through smart contracts. The software part is expressed by a profile administration backend and the ReCheck mobile app. Despite its specificity, blockchain technology is flexible and enables these solutions to be integrated into already existing systems or other platforms in the form of a plug-in or additional service.

“This is our first initiative to register sports products in a secure, decentralised environment tin order to fight counterfeit merchandise. Within the pilot project of a selected series of fancy PFC Levski articles, NFC chips will be placed on goods, which will then be programmed with the digital identity of the concrete product”, explain the initiators of the project.

Levski fans can scan electronic tags with their mobile devices and make sure they buy the original club products. Buyers just need to touch their smartphone to the NFC product chip and read the encoded information. “The service works like contactless payment cards,” ReCheck explains.

This sets the foundations for the development of innovative digital services such as digital autograph and personal message from athletes, adding video content and managing ownership. “Blockchain technology can open up new opportunities for developing relations between fans and the club, as well as engaging supporters with PFC Levski’s initiatives,” said the football club.

“We recently called on Levski fans to help the club fight counterfeit and this technological partnership with ReCheck is another step to protect the authenticity of Levski’s original products. We are glad that we are one of the first clubs in Europe to apply innovation such as a blockchain technology for digitisation of club merchandise and to increase the emotional value of products, said Todor Minev, marketing director of PFC Levski.

“This pilot project with PFC Levski proves the practical value and usefulness of our blockchain-based solution,” said Emilian Enev, co-founder of ReCheck.

How does the solutions work: