Compliance with legal age limits for alcohol and tobacco sales

Sep 18, 2020Blog, Use Cases

Age verification as an integral part of the industry

Many countries have implemented age limits to prevent underage purchases of alcohol. Sale of products with age restrictions requires special responsibility and vigilance from trade organizations: once sell alcoholic beverages or tobacco products to minors, it can cost the seller and the trading company an administrative penalty and a severe fine, inspections and even the closure of the retail outlet or commercial property. The issue of the buyer’s remote age verification becomes particularly relevant especially when it is impossible to verify the buyer’s passport in person or when purchasing goods through vending machines or self-service kiosks which have been placed in many shopping malls.

In the case of sale at the cash register, where a seller is a person, the issue of age verification is simply solved by presenting the passport to the cashier. When the purchase is made via a self-service terminal and there is alcohol or cigarettes in the customer’s basket, the terminal usually asks the shop staff to confirm the buyer’s age.

Smart IDReader: age verification for liquor stores or other offline stores

A good way to automate the identity verification process is to provide the age verification scanner with a hardware and software module Smart ID Engine for automatic ID recognition based on computer vision. All that is required is to install a simple camera and document recognition software in the terminal. In order to confirm the age, the buyer will have to present the main passport page to the terminal camera for a few seconds. The system itself will recognize the required field (date of birth) and issue permission for the purchase or decline it. The document will be also checked for signs of forgery. Other fields with personal data won’t be recognized in order not to violate confidentiality.

Respecting basic human rights and freedoms, the recognition system on the terminal should be installed so that data is not stored in the system and not transmitted to third-party servers. Smart IDReader technology allows you to install software on devices with minimal processing power. It means that additional terminal upgrades and installation of any devices that increase the power of the equipment will not be required. The whole recognition process will be run directly on the device in offline mode without network data transmission.

Using Smart IDReader for online age verification

Sellers, both legal entities and individuals, also face the need to check the buyer’s age in countries where online sales and delivery of alcohol, cigarettes and age-restricted goods are allowed, working through popular trading platforms such as eBay, Amazon and Shopify.

The platforms themselves, being large electronic marketplaces, aren’t usually responsible for the cooperation between the seller and the buyer. The seller and the buyer are responsible for what is sold, to whom it is sold and for law compliance.

In the case of remote trading, it’s obviously insufficient for the buyer to press the button “I am over 18 years old (21 years old)”. Documentary proof is required, it can be a passport or other ID which can help to determine whether the buyer complies with the age requirements or not. At the same time, the buyer’s documentary age verification and the process itself must be extremely secure in order to prevent the leakage of personal data. The age verification module can be integrated into customers’ client applications. Various methods are used when purchasing products with age restrictions. The most effective and precise method is remote identification by passport.

To confirm the age, the buyer has to take a photo of the passport page with the date of birth. The system will automatically find the field, extract data and perform verification. To exclude the possibility of using someone else’s ID, the system will ask the buyer to take a photo of him/herself and compare the image of the passport holder on the photo and on the received photo. In order to check whether the photo was taken by a real person, the buyer may be required to make a movement of the head, eyes, blink or look at the point specified by the app.

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Why not experience the power of Smart Engines for yourself? Our demo apps allow you to test the capabilities of our identity document recognition software on mobile devices in videostream or in a single image (photo, scan).

Simply display any document to the camera in real-time or choose a photo from the gallery, and the app will recognize and capture the necessary data.

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