Necessity of Age Verification in The Digital Space

We are living in an age where everything can be accessed quite easily on the internet. Ecommerce is becoming a norm for people and due to this reason, products can be obtained without any hassle and delivered at your doorstep. It is estimated that by 2021, 2.14 billion people will be using the online world to buy products and services. This is a 45% increase from 2015 when only 1.46 billion people made purchases online.

Amongst these online stories which are booming with each passing day, the age-exclusive e-commerce stores have also cropped up. Age-restricted stores include cannabis, alcohol, e-cigarettes, dating apps, adult-oriented services, and magazines. Due to ease of access and wide range availability, minors could easily access these products and services without any accountability. Numerous regulatory authorities are working on making sure children don’t get access to such products and services.

The Need for Age Verification Solutions

According to NHS survey of smoking, drinking and drug use among school children (11 to 15-year-olds) in England -in 2016, three percent said they were regular smokers, 74 percent said they find it very hard to give up smoking and 6 percent said they were currently daily e-cigarette smokers.

Age verification is a measure to protect children in the online space and it was introduced to make the internet safe police for kids to be. The absence of proper age verification systems is detrimental to online retailers as well. This is because of the strict regulations around the online sale of age-restricted products. According to the UK’s Digital Economy Act 2017, the commercially operated age-restricted stores must guarantee that their users are 18+. In the case of non-compliance, the regulators are authorized to fine them up to £250,000 (or up to 5% of their turnover) and direct the blocking of non-compliant websites.

Steps Not Likely to Satisfy Age-Verification

Age verification is becoming imperative for retailers and it has to be according to proper standards. In the absence of robust and precise age verification solutions, retailers can face fines and penalties as mentioned above. There are a lot of things that don’t satisfy the age verification standards.

  • Consigning the buyer to verify if they are of legal age
  • Requiring the date of birth only at the time of purchase
  • Use of tick boxes to ask buyers to prove they are of age
  • Use of an ‘accept’ statement for the purchaser to confirm that they have read the terms and conditions and are over the minimum age

In order to make sure your business is compliant with regulations, it becomes imperative for online retailers to have proper age verification systems in place. In case of improper age verification services, online retailers can face penalties.

How Do Age Verification Services Work?

Through the combination of technologies like artificial intelligence, computer vision, and machine learning, age verification software establishes the age of customers.  The combination of all these technologies results in an almost always accurate result. The process works by first capturing the ID document and then obtaining the data through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. The data and documents are then confirmed in real-time. Due to age verification services, it becomes almost impossible for minors to use their parents’ IDs or use fake IDs to access age-restricted websites and businesses.

Age Verification While Delivering Products

Age verification should also be done at the time of delivering the products. This is because underage teens and minors can ask someone else to buy these age-restricted products for them. So, it becomes imperative for retailers to have a strict age verification process at the time of delivery. This will help the retailers restrict their products to adults only which in turn protects them from legal consequences. On the other hand, minors are also protected against harmful substances that aren’t suitable for them.

Age verification is a crucial need in this era of eCommerce and its advantages go both ways. Retailers can benefit from the age verification solutions and protect their businesses’ reputation while protecting themselves from fines and penalties. On the other hand, underage people are also restricted from getting access to products not meant for them.

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