Securing alcohol is one of life's grand adventures for teens below the legal age. That's not to promote this activity or put a romantic spin on it. On the contrary, underage buying of alcohol is illegal and dangerous. Still, many people have high school stories of swiping some liquor from Daddy's basement bar or tricking the liquor store attendant with a fake ID.
Well, online liquor sales present a new platform for such memories. However, while the internet is full of business opportunities for liquor sellers, it also presents unique challenges and dangers of illegal alcohol consumption. So, can digital ID help to curb the mischief?
According to various estimates, the sale of alcohol online in the United States reached about $1.7 billion in 2017. Grocery stores drove the majority of these transactions.
It's expected that online booze sales will increase at a yearly compound growth rate of two percent up to 2025. The main contributing factor to this growth is that alcohol is generally easier to buy online than in local stores.
In various operation strings, it has come to the attention of authorities that more than 20 percent of underage people managed to purchase alcohol by ordering through an app. For registered and legit operators, underage drinkers create significant risks in the form of lawsuits and penalties.
There's also the risk of reputational damage should the public take the stance that online liquor sales promote underage drinking. To reduce the risk of attracting society's criticism, online alcohol sellers must find ways of effectively verifying the ages of their buyers.
Failure to do so will give detractors the ammunition to request excessive requirements to control the sale of age-restricted goods online. Doing so will threaten the viability of the online alcohol sales business.
Biometrics is a huge component of online ID verification. Before the sale of alcohol online became a thing, biometrics contributed a lot to providers' success of online gambling and e-cigarette eCommerce. In the past, there were a lot of rudimentary authentication checks that made it easy for underage consumers to bypass age verifications.
Unfortunately, some sellers were tricked, with unscrupulous providers setting up weak systems to take money from mischievous teens. Fortunately, advancements in technology are making that more challenging.
When it comes to the online sales of alcohol, authentication efforts boil down to two ID data points, computer intelligence, and biometrics. For example, an individual who tries to buy beer online needs to verify their identity and age by – depending on the retailer – scanning their driver's license or inputting the last four digits of their social security number. The merchant will then do a background check before authorizing the transaction.
To make things even more secure, retailers can ask for ID details and request that the user submit a selfie, making it more difficult for underage teens to fool the system. It's like an additional layer of proof that the user is who they say they are - not a cousin, friend, or parent.
Underage kids will always try to look for ways to trick the system. Stopping this may require several cultural changes. However, technology can serve as an effective guard against such attempts. Therefore, it's essential to have an online ID verification system attached to payment gateways, which will save smaller merchants the trouble of investing in developing their in-house systems. The costs of such developments could be a bit prohibitive unless the business was born online.
The business of alcohol sales online is still in its infancy, and many models and processes are in their testing stages. Online alcohol sales haven't yet attracted much attention, but parents and regulators will soon see how this trade promotes underage drinking as more businesses join this trend.
When it comes to verification, mistakes may be the problem that acts as a brake on the growth of this business, hence, why retailers need to take online ID verification very seriously.
In general, digital IDs are spreading globally. However, there is still a lot of work to be done before they can be available to act as a way for buyers to prove who they are online. So, for now, online retailers have to find different ways of preventing the sale of alcohol to underage consumers.
The majority of issues with online ID verification exist due to a lack of attention to the regulations and laws in specific areas of the country. Many retailers are unaware of the updated legislation regarding buying liquor online. Unfortunately, most stores focus on ensuring that they are not liable for online purchases of alcohol by minors instead of providing that they prevent it from happening altogether.
However, even if there may not be immediate consequences for businesses when a minor purchases alcohol online, the bad publicity this kind of activity gives the industry will harm the company in one way or the other.
To address the problem of minors tricking the system, online liquor stores can incorporate an age verification solution that features facial recognition as an extra layer of security. Stores can also implement identification verification systems that compare data on submitted identity documents to independent third-party databases such as a REST API.
It's also crucial for online alcohol retailers to try several ID verification solutions. However, before ordering any of these solutions, a retailer should ask the following:
Digital ID for alcohol sales can make it possible for online retailers to stop the purchase of alcohol by minors. However, ID verification shouldn't be an afterthought for this to happen. Every retailer's priority is to ensure that they have the most effective age verification solution that can easily pick out underage would-be drinkers and ban them from accessing online alcohol stores, positively impacting the industry.
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!