TALL Group Leads UK Launch Of Innovative Chain Of Custody And Authentication Platform
The TALL Group of Companies, the UK leader in the provision of secure paper and electronic payment solutions, has today (Tuesday 31st July) announced the UK launch of an innovative chain of custody and transaction verification platform that delivers absolute confidence and certainty to the user, provides real-time authentication and eliminates the risk of fraud. The DocuChain ‘Chain of Custody’ platform supports the validity of a wide-range of high-value transactions and mission critical processes, which will help organisations to identify fraudulent transactions such as: fake pharmaceuticals and unapproved treatment pathways, bogus professional credentials, contestable titles to assets, money laundering, and the veracity of supply chains including the non-genuine parts being installed in aircraft or North Sea oil rigs.
The Chain of Custody platform (patent pending) is called 4Trust and utilises a proprietary combination of technologies under license from DocuChain Limited. 4Trust incorporates a range of technologies from DocuChain and its constituent members: Uqudo (identity and access management), NXP (NFC integrated circuits), Qadre (Plug blockchain infrastructure) and Trotec (laser engraving specialist).
The TALL Group of Companies is leading the launch of the 4Trust platform as the exclusive licensee in the UK and Ireland – and the founding member of DocuChain’s 4Trust Alliance, a global partnership of 4Trust licensees.
Those organisations and individuals using the 4Trust Chain of Custody platform will obtain a specially-crafted smart polymer document produced by the TALL Group, which provides the physical, tangible record of the transaction, whose provenance can be authenticated in an immutable, external blockchain record. The document, described as a SmartPolymer Artifact, incorporates sophisticated fraud prevention features such as laser engraved images, encrypted QR Codes and embedded intelligence in the form of NFC (near-field communications) integrated circuits, which link the certificate to the digital record of the transaction or entitlements in question. The provenance of the creation of both the Artifact and its related metadata (Assets and Activities including entitlements and privileges) are then stored securely in the 4Trust Chain of Custody. This correlation between the physical and digital records creates a singular “Chain of Custody” that can be validated in real-time using mobile and desktop applications that are downloadable with every Artifact produced.
Indeed this ‘blockchain’ principle is key to the DocuChain Chain of Custody. Blockchain technology is like the internet in that it has a built-in robustness. By storing blocks of information that are identical across its network, the blockchain cannot be controlled by any single entity as it has multiple secure entry points and equally has no single point of failure. It is secure, resilient and delivers an immutable record of transactions and assets.
Philip Leone, Founder and CEO of DocuChain, said: “Legacy chains of custody are flawed and certainly not trustworthy, and the costs, to both enterprises and governments, are unacceptable. Our architecture provides four elements – two physical and two logical – which build upon existing document and trust systems, with authentications being conducted in real-time using Android, iOS and Windows apps. 4Trust’s innovative platform delivers and an immutable “Chain of Custody” for business performance, relationship management, governance, entitlement management and asset custodial services. Working with the TALL team has been very gratifying – they understand the dynamics and value of custody and how real time authentications engender trust, protect and value Identity, and restore sorely needed equities to global transaction domains.”
Martin Ruda, Group Managing Director of the TALL Group of Companies, said: “We have an enviable position supplying securely printed paper documents worldwide. Now, as the first licensee of the DocuChain Chain of Custody platform, the TALL Group will lead the UK and its global customers into a new era of indisputable provenance that can be authenticated in real-time. We are extremely proud to have played a key role in the development of this important and ambitious solution, which we are sure will help to shape the future of how vital ownership and provenance information and records are stored and validated.”
TALL Group featured on Management Today website
The following article by Stephen Jones was published on the Management Today website on 25th July 2018 under its Leadership Lessons heading
How the TALL Group avoided chequemate…
Faced with the decline of its core business, the UK’s leading cheque printer has had to seek new avenues.
by Stephen Jones
If someone told you could corner the market for bankers’ cheques in 1991, you’d have been fairly pleased with yourself. We’re always going to need cheque books, right?
But then the internet happened, and for cheque book manufacturers like the TALL Group, conditions suddenly looked less rosy: over the last two decades, the volume of cheque usage has declined at 15% a year.
Yet through a strategy of diversification, innovation and internationalisation, TALL has not only been able to survive, but thrive.
It’s remained profitable over the last 10 years – except for an operating loss in 2011 following exceptional costs. The group posted a bumper profit in 2016 – driven largely by the acquisition of the Northern Irish based DLRS (now DLRT Ltd) – which it has maintained every year since.
The three company group has been specialising in the production of secure documents, cheques and credit slips for over 25 years and counts ‘nearly all’ of the major UK banks and building societies as well as a swell of corporates, educators and national governments among its diverse, but specialised list of clients.
‘Twenty years ago, cheques and credit account for over 90% of our core sales,’ says TALL MD Martin Ruda. ‘So we have had to mitigate the threat by doing a number of classic diversification routines, look for alternative products,services and markets. But also find ways to add value to a diminishing product.’
This diversification has been two-fold, focusing on areas closely aligned to its core product.
The decline of physical cheques does not mean a decline in payments and the company has invested heavily in developing technology that facilitates the transaction of all types of payment.
It has rolled out an outsourcing solution whereby it prints, audits and distributes cheques on behalf of clients, while the development of cheque scanning software solutions continues to represent a fruitful opportunity. It is now investing heavily in building products supported by blockchain technology.
In the realm of physical products, the inbuilt security holograms or features and sequential numbering included on cheques are also used on a variety of other types of document including birth certificates, exam results and ballot papers.
The fact that the company already had the inbuilt production processes has made it easier to double down into these markets, which have proved to be particularly effective as an export.
International expansion has also been a major part of the group’s growth strategy – and the area that it has arguably seen some of its the greatest success.
Having had a largely native client base, the company recruited an experienced export manager in order to identify new opportunities in international markets, government applications and education markets. Ten years later, it now exports to over 20 countries and was awarded the 2018 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the international trade category.
‘Where our opportunity lies is in challenging emerging markets,’ says Ruda, explaining how the Group has been able to attain significant custom outside of Europe, in regions including West Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
‘The European markets are already well served when it comes to security printing, and many of them don’t use some of these core products such as cheques and paper certificates.’
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, the ‘volatile’ nature of third world markets can be unpredictable and demand for TALL’s products can differ dramatically year on year. For example in 2016 the company was required to produce 20 million ballot papers for the Ugandan election, whereas in other years a similar order may not be required.
As a result the company say that international exports can range anywhere between 10-25% of the annual turnover.
The biggest challenge is ‘understanding and foreseeing the technology shifts that will increasingly affect all of TALL’s markets. Up to two million cheques are still processed every working day, but big changes are on the way.
The nationwide UK roll out of truncation technology – which requires all cheques to be electronically scanned – will change the nature of TALL’s product, but continues to hold increasing opportunities, especially in the innovation of the security features that survive the scanning process.
Ruda admits that the business has been able to increase its share of a heavily regulated market due to the limited number of accredited competitors, which has only gotten smaller as the market declined. But TALL’s success shows that those with an innovative strategy and willingness to adapt can ensure survival in the most difficult markets.
Checkprint finalists in the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce Business Awards
The Hinckley-based company has been shortlisted in the ‘Excellence in International Trade’, ‘Business Improvement Through Technology’ and ‘Small Business of the Year’ award categories ahead of the Awards Dinner on 21st September in Leicester after being nominated in the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce Leicestershire Business Awards 2018.
The three awards pay tribute to organisations that have excelled in the field of international sales growth and development; the use of science and technology to drive businesses forward; and to recognise those SME’s who have excelled through innovation, staff development and growth. Finalists have also been selected and judged on the quality of their products and services, their dedication to sales performance, innovation and the sustainability of their business.
Checkprint’s Hinckley site, whilst remaining a key print resource within the TALL Group, has also seen major investment in new IT equipment and infrastructure to support its new cheque imaging product line extension. The company has – through major contracts with several major banks – already provided over 5,000 cheque scanners into the new imaging market sector both in the UK and overseas.
Martin Ruda, Group Managing Director, the TALL Group, said: “We have always been ready to invest in the development of exciting technology. These innovative new products and services, built on the expertise of Checkprint’s existing relationships with major financial institutions, are helping to drive future growth within the Hinckley site. We are proud to have been shortlisted in these three award categories and are very much looking forward to the Awards Dinner in September.”
The nominations follow news earlier in the year that the TALL Group had been accorded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2018 for its outstanding international sales growth boosted by input from Checkprint and the other TALL Group companies.