Retailers to begin testing digital age verification technology next year

Industry

Retailers across the UK are being invited to begin testing “digital proof of age” technology in first major steps away from physical ID.

The Home Office and Office for Product Safety Standards has invited retailers to suggest and then test new forms of age verification in their stores.

Retailers are being asked to seek out their own alternatives to physical identification then explain to the government how it works and how they plan to test it.

This is likely to see off-licence stores trial digital age verification technology such as Yoti, an app which allows you to upload a government approved ID document the so it can prove the users age without giving away all their personal data.

READ MORE: UK will soon use government backed digital “e-pounds” and be cashless within a decade

Yoti, which already works with 12,000 convenience store retailers across the country, will authenticate the user by taking a face scan, then provide information like “over 18” for shop keepers.

While Yoti is currently accepted in a number of retailers as proof of age, shoppers are still not allowed to use digital ID to buy alcohol in the UK, but this trial could soon see that change.

“We welcome this important initiative to properly test, evaluate and provide assurance and certification of the plethora of technologies that are emerging to help with age assurance,” chair of the Expert Panel on Age Restrictions and CEO of the Age Check Certification Scheme Tony Allen said.

“This will assist with enhancing the protection of children from harm, but also potentially reducing the levels of abuse suffered by workers in licensed premises when challenging for proof of age.

“The results of these sandbox trials, when independently evaluated, can help inform future policy development for the retail sale of alcohol.”

Retailers can now submit applications online at gov.uk and the Office for Product Safety and Standards will be hosting a series of webinars over the next two months to help users create their proposals.

The trials are set to begin in April next year, and each application will be assessed by a host of experts from organisations including the Metropolitan Police and Trading Standards.

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