The Benefits and Challenges of Online Age Verification
January 15, 2021
It is estimated that 2.14 billion people now buy products or services online, 27.43% of the global population. Technological advancement has ensured growing numbers of businesses realise the necessity of, not just being online, but providing a first-class digital experience.
The e-commerce landscape has been revolutionised in recent years and with features like next-day shipping, secure payment methods and virtual changing rooms, shoppers feel much more confident in making online purchases. But this high-demand has seen the industry face unforeseen challenges.
Many of the interactions we once had face-to-face have quickly moved online. Those hoping to sign up to services which require identity verification no longer have the luxury of being able to call into their local branch; the global pandemic has decreased typical human interaction meaning account opening and identity verification now has to be done remotely.
Easy, secure online shopping has made e-commerce accessible to all people and all industries, including those which would typically require identity verification. Previously ‘underserved’ industries such as e-cigarettes, alcohol, dating apps and adult-only subscriptions are being enabled online by identity and age verification software.
Almost a third of the global population buys products or services online and 86% of Millennials make purchases through their mobile phones. This unprecedented access to online products and services is making it harder for age-restricted merchants to regulate their products and services. But, without the necessary checks and if underaged customers are able to access these platforms, they can be subject to serious repercussions, legal and otherwise.
The physical sale of alcohol for example, is one area where the legislation is very clear. A legal purchasing limit is set, age verification is required and fines are actively enforced. These purchases require a face-to-face interaction solely for age verification.
The government has estimated the cost of alcohol misuse in society at around £21 billion a year, including £11 billion in alcohol-related crime in England and Wales.
According to government guidance, ‘online retailers face a fine of £5,000 for selling or supplying alcohol to children. In addition, personal licences can be suspended or forfeited on a first offence. If a retailer persistently sells alcohol to customers under the age of 18, the fine increases to £20,000.’
The alcohol industry is of course, just one example of a sector which requires verification; sites selling cigarettes/e-cigarettes, knives, online gaming, gambling, pharmaceuticals and online dating apps are all subject to age-checks. Companies need to at least do their due diligence to try and verify the age of their visitors before they purchase.
This, along with the increased wider online activity – increasing the risk of online fraud – has raised the already high demand for competent identity and age verification software.
In the past, verifying a person’s age online was difficult, especially when purchasing items can be as simple as providing genuine credit card details. ID verification solutions offer a crucial and important barrier to purchase for age-restricted commerce vendors.
In addition to regular online businesses, online marketplaces have a responsibility and obligation to self-regulate and ensure the goods being sold on their platforms are not in danger of reaching vulnerable customers.
Social media is another platform which may find itself subject to age-verification regulations in the future to protect those most vulnerable; currently, users are typically asked to put in their birthday when they sign up for a service, but there is no real verification to ensure it is accurate.
It is time for online operators to take responsibility and self-regulate, rather than expecting customers to police themselves. Robust identity verification provides a way for companies to accurately determine the age of their customers and a variety of industries can benefit from online identity verification to age-restricted goods and services.
How can we help
The digital age is ever-evolving and businesses should keep up with the changes and latest technologies. Secure and reliable levels of verification and authentication should be implemented to prevent fraud from taking place. With businesses wanting advanced authentication measures that have little or no impact on their digital customer experience, utilising alternative digital data sources is the answer.
More often than not, traditional identity checks are unnecessarily long and require information or documents that the individual may not have access to.
Acuant’s age verification solutions provide businesses with a robust way to quickly and effectively verify a customer’s name and date of birth. This can be done throughout the user journey, whether during the registration process or checkout.
Our comprehensive family of KYC and AML solutions all work together and are delivered via a single API integration. Using this wide range of data, we provide a unique, real-time ID scoring system that intelligently verifies the identity and can be sure your customers are who they say they are.
Our global ID, KYC & AML platform, Sodium, is designed to help save you time and money, streamline your customer journey, automate your onboarding process, reduce fraud and achieve regulatory compliance. One simple integration; a flexible 360° solution that is scalable and secure.
Utilise a single element or multiple processes – it’s entirely up to you. Learn more about how we can help to automate and simplify your verification processes to help you to learn more about your customers.
Book a demo today and see for yourself how powerful our suite of solutions are.