Counterfeit Currency, Black Money and QR Codes
It seems a weird combination isn’t it. The first two seem related due to obvious reasons but how QR Code is related to it?
The answer is simple. Because in my humble opinion, QR Code is the technologies’ cure for these two.
If it’s still not obvious for you, indulge me for a few moments.
Anonymity – The hurting edge of this sword
We all know how great an innovation currency notes are. There is no reason to doubt it. Currency note are very powerful, not just because of the value but the anonymity that comes bundled with it. Every cash transaction is also an anonymous transaction. Most of the time the hands exchanging the cash know the value, reference and the consequences. Any other party (read Government) can know about it. As much for a solution, it becomes a problem when this tool is used against the good of the society. Terrorists, extremist, smugglers, drug dealers, extortionists, mafia, the list goes on and on; everybody uses cash and boy they love it. This love is more because of anonymity than value.
Counterfeit – Clone to multiply
Counterfeit currency is big problem of the modern economy. Every money printing bank is coming up with security measures to fight this menace but somehow the crooks are winning. Watermarks, complex patterns, different textures, UV sensitive ink, metal foil strips, every trick in the book is tried and failed. Technology is too advanced and cheap these days for these measures to succeed.
Wait there is a serial number too. It is supposed to provide a unique identity to every note that is printed with it. But how do you verify the uniqueness of this number. Is there a mechanism for it? Is this mechanism fast, cheap, easily accessible to commoners?
The answer is a big NO.
QR Codes – The Answer
Well print unique QR Codes on every currency note. It is a simple, fast and easily accessible solution for everyone to verify uniqueness and authenticity of a currency note. To make it work, some investments are required from the authorities in the form of fast QR Code scanners on the lines of currency counters. Every bank should scan the incoming notes’ QR Code for tracking and security purpose. This data should be consolidated at a central location and analyzed.
Answer to counterfeits
- No two note should carry the same QR codes. If they are, one of them is bogus.
- If two notes are scanned across different geo locations, in a short span of time, carrying the same QR Code, chances are one of them is rouge. Notes being physical objects can’t be teleported.
- Maintain and release a black list of such QR Codes. Withheld all such notes at banks, collect at central location and discard them.
Now imagine a smartphone app which allows you click a photo of the currency note(s). Scan the QR Code(s) on the fly and verify their authenticity in no time. How’s that for simplicity?
That’s not all, a pattern can be found out from the geo-locations of frequently fake reporting banks. It can help locate the centers of fake currency distributions.
Answer to black money
Tracking not only helps with fake but real money too. Let me run a few scenarios for you.
- A parent withdraws 20 lakhs from the bank and bribes a medical college for the admission of his incompetent son. The institute pays the same money to a building contractor. Contractor uses the same money to a low cost North Indian labor (no offence intended). The immigrant sends this money to his family back home. And the notes are scanned back at the bank/post office. Bingo!
- A private corporation pays for an expensive European honeymoon of a newly married daughter of a politician. Money changes hands but it originates from and lands in a bank some point time. Trace is complete and boom!
I don’t have to explain myself more. I think you got the point.
Why limit it to money only?
Really? If it’s that great a solution then why stop at money only. There are treasury bonds, stamp papers (ask Abdul Kareem Telgi), share certificates and many more avenues where QR codes can be an answer. It adds uniqueness to any valuable printed media and ends the ever dangerous anonymity with it.
Will it ever be implemented? I don’t think so. Why? Ask politicians, corrupt corporations and mafia of this word, they are more than willing to explain it to you :p