Verifying Customer’s Age in Today’s Digital World

by Laura C. Jones
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As rightly said in a study published by the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the Covid-19 pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of modern-day technologies. One of the aspects of this pandemic acceleration was eCommerce. According to data from the United States Census Bureau, online sales increased around 40% in the first year of the pandemic going from $571.2 in 2019 to $815.4 in 2020. However, with this increase in online sales comes a need to verify customers’ age, especially for businesses offering age-restricted products and services like alcohol, cannabis, e-gaming, etc.

Since online retailers don’t meet the consumers in person, verifying the age becomes challenging. But where there’s a challenge, there’s a solution available. So, what’s the solution for this one? Age verification. Age verification allows online retailers to verify a customer’s age in today’s digital and remote world.

What Is Digital Age Verification?

Digital age verification is a process that helps online businesses verify the ages of their users.

Online businesses must comply with several laws, including those related to age. For example, if you’re selling alcohol or tobacco products, you may have to verify the age of your customers. The same goes for medical marijuana dispensaries and other regulated industries.

The process varies by industry but generally involves asking for identification (like a passport or driver’s license). When the customer uploads an ID card image, he or she is asked to take a selfie. The ID and selfie photos are then matched to verify the age.

However, creating and implementing an age verification solution of your own can be costly and time-consuming. Hence, it is best to seek solutions from vendors offering age verification-as-a-service. If you own an online store and need to implement customer age verification, look for vendors who can provide a robust solution that does not impair the customer journey. Putting it simply, the solutions need to be quick in verifying age.

What Are the Risks of Not Having Digital Age Verification Mechanisms?

If you don’t have digital age verification mechanisms, it could be a huge security risk to your business.

Digital age verification mechanisms let you know whether or not the person on the other end of your e-commerce platform is old enough to buy your product. This can be useful for companies selling alcohol, tobacco products, or other regulated items. If you’re selling these items illegally, you could face fines or even criminal charges if caught.

But digital age verification isn’t just about avoiding legal trouble; it’s also about protecting yourself from fraud and identity theft. Fraudsters can use stolen credit cards to make purchases online and leave negative reviews for products they never received (or worse). By knowing the real identity of your customers, you can prevent these kinds of schemes from happening.

If you end up compromising data due to a cyberattack, you might face trouble due to regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPAA). Both these regulatory acts can lead to the imposing of fines on your company. Moreover, it can also impact your reputation in the market.

What Industries Need Age Verification Services?

While many industries need age verification services, here are a few that must have them.

E-Gaming

The e-gaming industry is booming. According to an Insider Intelligence report, there will be around 29 million monthly esports viewers in 2022. This means that access to e-gaming has increased. That’s also why there should be an age verification mechanism in place for this industry to protect minors from participating in gambling activities.

The main reason behind this is that there are many different types of games, and some are more appropriate for adults than children.

For example, poker is a game that requires players to use their strategy and thinking skills to win the game. More importantly, it involves the risk of losing money. This means it’s not a good game for kids because they don’t have the experience to play it properly.

Another reason the e-gaming industry should have an age verification mechanism in place is that it’s tough for parents to track what their children are doing online.

There are many different ways that kids can access online content these days, so they need to have parental controls on their devices so that they don’t see anything inappropriate.

Tobacco and Alcohol E-Stores

Tobacco and alcohol are some of the most harmful drugs, with more than 4.8 million deaths yearly due to tobacco-related illnesses. The same is true for alcohol as well. In response to these alarming statistics, many countries have taken steps to limit tobacco use through legislation and regulation. In some cases, these measures have included banning tobacco sales entirely or restricting them to adults only. Hence, tobacco and alcohol e-stores should have age verification services.

First, it is essential to protect minors from the harmful effects of tobacco and alcohol use. Tobacco and alcohol are addictive substances that can cause long-term health problems when used excessively. These two products can also lead to shorter-term consequences, such as addiction, lung disease, and liver damage.

Second, suppose you don’t have age verification and deliver tobacco or alcohol to minors. In that case, you may face legal consequences and hefty fines that can lead to a damaged reputation and lost customers.

Cannabis Industry

Online tobacco stores should also have age verification mechanisms because they are more likely to attract minors than traditional brick-and-mortar stores. There are several reasons why this is the case:

  • People tend to be more comfortable shopping online than they would be going into an actual store
  • These websites also provide a wider range of products
  • Many minors do not have access to credit cards or cash but can still use their parents’ accounts

Since minors will try to use their parents’ accounts, having a real-time age verification-as-a-service can help prevent access. Since digital age verification is a small 4-step process, you can ask the customer to go through the verification each time. This can help identify if the adult parent is ordering the item or if the minor is using the parent’s account.

Final Thoughts

Because of digital age verification, the industry is growing in leaps and bounds. Banks, online music stores, online video gaming platforms, and other businesses that rely on verifying customer ages will be among the first places to integrate these platforms into their offerings. It is only a matter of time before more mainstream businesses start to do so as well.

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