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Age verification providers welcome positive Home Office conclusions

December 30, 2022

For immediate release

Age verification providers welcome positive Home Office conclusions following trials of age estimation and digital proof of age in shops and bars across the UK.

London, 30 December 2022 – The Home Office today published its conclusions following live tests which took place earlier this year (2022) of age estimation and digital proofs of age held on smartphones for buying alcohol or accessing licensed premises.

The pilots were hosted by four major supermarkets, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-op, which all used estimation and digital ID supplied by Yoti, as well as smaller stores operated by Bestway Retail (Tippl, Bargain Booze, Wine Rack) where Innovative Technology’s products helped staff to assess the age of customers.  Bars and clubs in Liverpool and Nottingham accepted digital proofs of age provided by and Fujitsu.

Key learning from the trial highlighted by the UK Government included:

  • Uptake of age estimation technology at self-scan checkouts suggests that there is appetite for digital age assessment.
  • The majority of trials of digital ID apps experienced very low take up.
  • The trials did not assess accuracy of the technology but did demonstrate that it is sensitive to a number of environmental factors that could impact on reliability, for example positioning of equipment relative to bright light. Licence holders will need to consider carefully if age verification technologies can work in their premises to realise the benefits consistently.
  • A number of trials aimed to explore if technology could reduce queuing time to enter licensed premises. Findings were inconclusive and suggest that speed of entry to venues will be dependent on practical factors such as good phone battery and wifi signal.

Detailed independent evaluations are likely to be published by the suppliers and hosts of these nine exercises early in the new year, but are expected to demonstrate that thousands of customers were successfully checked in a wide range of environments. As well as proving that technology often estimates age more accurately than the human eye, the results are also likely to add weight to the arguments that checks are applied more consistently, that they lead to less conflict between staff and customers, and can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to use self-service tills.

At present, while digital proof is sufficient for most age-restricted purchases, UK licensing laws required physical identity documents which carry a hologram or an ultraviolet mark before alcohol may be purchased.  It is hoped that the trials will now prompt evidence-based changes to government policy so customers are no longer required to carry valuable physical ID such as a passport or driving licence when they go shopping.

Iain Corby, Executive Director of the AVPA said:

“The comprehensive success of these trials adds great weight to the argument that the UK’s Mandatory Licensing Conditions for the sale of alcohol are hopelessly outdated.  Digital age checks are more comprehensively applied, more accurate than human estimates, cause less conflict between staff and customers, and mean the end to waiting to be approved at self-service tills with the yellow light above you.”

Notes for Editors

About The Age Verification Providers Association

The Age Verification Providers Association represents all the main technology suppliers who have invested in the development of age verification and estimation solutions to support the implementation of age restrictions online and in person

About the AVPA

As an association, we work to:

  • Inform and educate the public, industry, and media, on age verification solutions and technology.
  • Promote a positive image of effective age verification and the age verification industry.
  • Represent the industry to regulators and law makers for the advancement of best practice, socially responsible age verification policy.

The AVPA was formed in 2018 from organisations involved in the UK’s Digital Policy Alliance age verification working group and created and in response to a need for a uniform voice for of the industry.

The AVPA is governed by a representative Board drawn from its member organisations.

 Contact:         Iain Corby