Through a mix of software and hardware solutions, the tax stamp industry has seen significant technological advancement in security, authentication and track and trace capabilities. Within this, there has been a renewed focus on using secure unique identifiers in an overarching system to provide a multifunctional tax stamp to 150 jurisdictions globally. Despite the stellar advancements in unique identifiers used in the tax stamp industry, a recent study by Kurti et al (2019) found that over 23% of New York City cigarette tax stamps from 2,357 tested were fake, citing mismatches in the microscopic features on the stamp.

Here, we present Optical Q-ID as a simple, cost-effective solution to the problem of anti-counterfeiting, authentication and track and trace supply chain management, leveraging quantum mechanics. At the atomic scale, everything is unique; Q-ID tags employ materials, whose external properties are defined by nanoscale, macroscopic imperfections. A smartphone, with no additional hardware, reads a unique ‘quantum fingerprint’ identity from the tag and verifies it was generated by a quantum material, making cloning and simulation impossible. In essence, the world’s first quantum secure tax stamp technology, empowering all in the global supply chain to be the custodian of product security, armed with just a smartphone.