Tesco, Asda and Morrisons have confirmed their support for digital age verification checks at self checkouts following a series of Home Office trials which have revealed there is an appetite for new ways for consumers to prove their age.
The trials, which launched last year across Asda, Morrisons and Tesco, allowed customers to buy age-restricted items – such as alcohol – without a member of staff physically checking their ID.
In partnership with digital identification software company, Yoti, the software allowed customers to use age estimation technology via a camera in the self-checkout screen which accurately estimates a customer’s age.
The new method does not require any personal details or ID documents, with all images instantly deleted once someone received their estimated age. If the system detected a consumer looked younger than required age, customers were asked to use an alternative, physical method of ID.
Following the trial, all participating supermarkets have confirmed they support digital age verification and would welcome legislative change in this area.
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Currently, the law requires a person to observe and approve the sale of age-restricted items. The Home Office is due to publish full reports with the outcomes of the supermarket trials, and whether digital age verification will become an accepted verification method for the sale of age restricted goods.
The work was described as “an important step” to further understanding what is needed to successfully add age verification technologies into “an existing robust monitoring and enforcement licensing regime”.
Crucially, no underage customers purchased age-restricted items when using the new Yoti age verification technology and the majority of shoppers who used the digital proof of age solutions liked the technology and said they would would use it again.
While the trials did not assess accuracy of the technology, they did demonstrate that it can be sensitive to a number of environmental factors, such as bright light. Licence holders will need to consider if age verification technologies will work in their premises if they are to be effective consistently.
Alongside these trials, Aldi has been successfully trialling Yoti facial age estimation on its mobile shopper app.
“Since the 2022 supermarket trials, we have continued to invest in our facial age estimation technology,” said Yoti’s chief policy and regulatory officer, Julie Dawson.
“With 70% of people saying they would use facial age estimation when buying age-restricted goods at self checkout, we believe shoppers and retailers are ready to embrace this new technology and look forward to reading the full outcome of the trials.”