According to Unicef, one in three internet users online is under the age of 18. As internet services proliferated, age verification has now come under the focus from regulators across the world. In 2018, the FDA in the US targeted Juul Labs and four major manufacturers for sales of e-cigarettes and vapes to minors and in August 2019, four Swedish gaming operators were fined for accepting bets on competitions with underage players.
Today, multiple products that range from e-cigarettes, dating apps, adult-only subscriptions that include magazines and content are sold online and require age verification. Without robust age verification scanners in place, online platforms that offer age-restricted products and services could run into legal repercussions and face business risks if underaged consumers buy their products. Businesses can now adopt new age verification methods that are secure and privacy-focused through biometric authentication solutions.
Tech is getting smarter for online platforms
With most businesses and brands moving their operations online, recent studies found that more than half of the businesses that came under the survey did not have a robust age verification scanner at the point of checkout or delivery.
Many services place the onus on the customer to reveal their actual age but have no follow-up mechanisms to confirm a submitted date of birth. Other websites would ask customers to merely tick a box to confirm that they are over 18. This results in having underage players for online gaming websites and problems with order fulfilment for online stores when a delivery partner does not ask for proof of age or identity upon delivery. The FDA now legally expects businesses to have age verification scanners for some adult-only products and the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) legislation requires age verification software. As effective, easier-to-access age verification scanners become available, the consequences of not meeting regulatory requirements are growing bigger.
“Due to the sensitive nature of age verification data, there needs to be a higher standard of protection than the baseline which is offered by data protection legislation,” says Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock .
Businesses are tapping into age verification tools that are easy for consumers to use and don’t have a clunky interface or processing hiccups, factors that can kill conversion rates for a business.
With age verification solutions, underage consumers will be screened from access to products they should not be accessing while legal adults can buy age-restricted products without added friction. This reduces the exposure of businesses to legal risk and fraud.
Age verification for websites should be supported by regulators working to create robust systems that enterprises rely on to prove the identity of their users, onboard new customers or efficiently manage data privacy.
Why biometrics play a critical role in authentication
Biometrics as a means of verification is quickly becoming mainstream – particularly because it promises higher security, greater accuracy and convenience to the user. With a large-scale shift towards mobile and IoT, biometrics are critical to identity verification tools that can enable passwordless sign-ins and authentications.
“The time has come to embrace stronger methods of user authentication. Breaches are relentless and continue to point to stolen credentials as a high-value target for attackers. Many organizations are already stepping into the password-less future, and rightly so. I can think of no other solution that would have a larger impact in today’s threat landscape,” - Stephen Cox, a technology veteran.
Biometrics enables age verification in the same step as identity verification. An end user only has to take a video or photo selfie and then a photo of their official government ID. To verify a user’s identity, the images from the selfie are matched with the photo in the official government ID. At the same time, the photo of the ID document is run against databases for ID authentication. Since the birthdate is on the ID document, this information can be used to calculate a user’s age and screen underage users.
Passbase enables identity and age verification through facial recognition and liveness detection through a video selfie format, backed by 6000+ supported government IDs. End users who verify using Passbase can also scan their face for future passwordless authentications (sign-ins) and opt to share documents with the company again if a company activates these features. This allows a business to perform age verification for every purchase and also gives the end user more control over their identity, choosing what data to share and who to share it with.
For enterprises, this can also mean better customer satisfaction and higher revenues. Strong age verification scanners that provide a frictionless process to customers see better satisfaction rates, with revenue increasing by $6.52 per customer.
With robust digital identity and age verification scanners, businesses and users interact better – simplifying and securing services, whether it is for online shopping, online banking, car sharing, or government services.
With a privacy-focused identity verification service like Passbase, a business does not need to store and secure an individual’s personal data. Instead, Passbase performs the identity verification and an individual can use their digital identity to prove their age without having to reveal other sensitive details like their address for the business.
With platforms that enable this for age verification online, users will be able to access the services or products they need quickly and conveniently – they needn’t type out their sensitive personal information or go through multiple authentications across different platforms. Better yet, it helps mitigate fraud and identity theft.
Age verification scanners will see both buyers and sellers benefitting from the process – where, despite its inadequacies, enterprises are able to confirm the age of a user. With facial recognition technology and other biometric tools, age verification for websites has become savvier. It can’t be long until age verification online increases accuracy and usage.
Passbase provides a convenient way for businesses to integrate age verification into their platforms through a no-code solution, the Passbase API or with SDKs for iOS, Android, and web. Try Passbase today for free or book a demo.