An age verification system helps control access to digital content, ensuring those not appropriately aged cannot access restricted content. Here are the primary use cases for age verification systems:
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eCommerce websites sell a variety of products and services to a broad audience. Some of these products can be harmful and may only be sold to adults—for example, alcohol and tobacco. When purchasing these products in a brick-and-mortar store, the buyer must be an adult or be accompanied by one. The same restrictions apply online, creating the need for age verification.
Merchants providing age-restricted services have a social and ethical responsibility to prevent children from consuming age-restricted products and exercise caution when selling to online customers. Beyond this moral responsibility, most countries have laws restricting the sale of specific products to minors. eCommerce companies must implement appropriate age verification measures to keep within legal requirements and avoid fines and other legal penalties.
Related content: Read our guide to age verification for websites
Many countries have enacted legislation requiring online retailers who sell specific products to restrict access to minors. Many of these laws require reliable age verification: it is not necessary to ask a web visitor about their age; the online merchant must verify that they are of the appropriate age.
For example, some European countries, such as the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany, limit the online gambling age to 18+. Similarly, in many countries where pornography is legal, age verification is required by law when granting access to adult content.
Here are a few examples of legislation that requires eCommerce websites to implement reliable age verification:
In the past, organizations implemented age restrictions on websites using an "age gate"—a pop-up that asked visitors to provide their date of birth and confirm they are over the required age.
Another measure that is still common is the use of captchas or online puzzles as an age verification measure. Minors can quickly solve these puzzles and gain access to age-restricted products.
Age gates and captcha mechanisms are not reliable measures because they rely on the visitor's honesty. In addition, they do not verify that the age information provided is correct and therefore do not meet legal requirements for many age-restricted products.
Even when eCommerce websites introduce age verification methods, they face another challenge. Many minors use the identity documents of their parents or others to access age-restricted products and services, making it necessary not just to verify age but also to verify identity and confirm that the provided ID document belongs to the individual accessing the website.
Most eCommerce companies must comply with regulations and industry standards. Digital technology is vital in providing customer-friendly services but raises data security and compliance concerns. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your technology complies with the relevant regulations and industry standards.
Compliance is especially critical in industries like online gaming, dating and gambling sites, and selling age-restricted products like tobacco and alcohol. These businesses must use digital identification and age verification solutions to protect minors from illegally purchasing these products and services. Still, they must ensure the answer is compliant with regulations in their jurisdiction.
Electronic Identity Verification (eIDV) verifies a buyer's data, such as their name, date of birth, and address, to verify that the buyer is legitimate. Two-factor authentication can help improve eIDV by, for example, requiring users to provide both phone number and email data and matching this with open data sources.
Document review includes a comparison of customer photos and ID cards. These reviews may be an additional step in the eIDV process, an essential layer of information for sellers of age-restricted items by specific regulations.
Merchants of age-restricted products may also request credit card information from customers. However, this method is unreliable because minors can use cards owned by their parents and others to pretend to be adults.
OCR technology scans customer documents and recognizes alphanumeric data in scanned images to ensure legitimacy. In addition, it makes it possible to collect information from customer devices, such as scanners, smartphones, and digital cameras, giving customers several convenient ways to verify their identity.
Face-based biometrics provides a solid deterrent to underage customers and potential scammers using fake IDs to access age-restricted products. It offers greater accuracy, security, and convenience for legitimate users. Facial recognition and verification are reliable, protect your business from the risk of privacy fraud, and prevent minors from accessing restricted services.
BlueCheck achieves this balance by combining a sleek, field-tested user interface with a robust verification engine that connects to a network of authoritative databases and credit bureaus. In addition, we partner with companies in various industries and growth stages to provide affordable, reliable online age verification. Learn more about how BlueCheck can help you solve your age verification challenges!