Mobile e-commerce makes up for nearly 29% of the entire e-commerce sales in the US. A majority of the millennial users – 86% – make online purchases through their smartphones. Such unrestricted access to products and services online, makes it harder for businesses dealing in age-restricted merchandise to regulate their services. Verifying customers’ age is difficult in person as it is. It reaches a whole different level of challenging for online purchases. In a day and age where a user can access goods online by simply providing genuine credit card details. Making sure the person using them is of the appropriate or legal age is part of the obligations online merchants have to fulfil. Thus, ID verification becomes crucial, particularly so for age-restricted vendors.

A study conducted in the US estimates that nearly 60 per cent of online businesses selling alcohol had negligible age checks in place. However, with the increasing legal obligations to verify customers before selling them goods, online retailers must take into account online age verification for users. Merely entering a date of birth or verifying customers through their social media profiles is no longer enough. Resourceful teenagers have found ways to fool such methods and gain access to amenities like online gaming and alcohol. Industries like pharmaceuticals, alcohol and tobacco industry have incredibly stringent regulations. Not verifying users under 18 can lead to heavy fines, legal ramifications and, most importantly, lead to reputational damage.

ID Verification for Age Restricted Commerce

Different regions around the world, including the UK, have now legislated age verification measures for businesses like gambling, alcohol, tobacco, online dating apps and adult content websites. Different states in the US are now also observing age regulation laws. This has created the need for an effective method for online retailers to verify their users accurately. Online identity verification services can be an adequate solution for verifying the age of their customers.

An age verification solution for online businesses authenticates its users through online ID document verification. The verification software authenticates the user’s age by scanning their date of birth from their ID document. Online merchants can further corroborate their customers’ identities by facial recognition scans.

E-merchants, dealing in age-restricted commerce, are fast realising the need for an effective online ID verification solution in order to prevent underage usage. Some businesses that fall under the bracket of age-restricted commerce and are in need of ID verification services;

  • Pharmaceuticals

Online pharmacies while being a convenience for patients, pose a major risk of being accessed by underage users with a drug habit. There are certain regulatory bodies that manage records of online pharmacies. However, this is not enough to urge them to verify the buyer’s age. Therefore, it becomes imperative for online pharmaceutical companies to make sure whether their customers are of legal age of purchasing prescription drugs. Online age checks can ensure safer business practices for online pharmacies and help them build trust with regional regulatory bodies.

  • Alcohol and Tobacco

Both alcohol and tobacco are stringently regulated globally. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US prohibited the sale of cigarettes to underage individuals. Similarly, the sale of alcohol is prohibited to anyone under 21 in the US and under 18 in the UK. These laws are as much applicable for online retailers as they are for physical vendors. Appropriate age and identity checks must be observed by online stores before delivering their products.

  • Online Gaming

Children, particularly adolescents, are attracted to online gaming. However, studies show that children are likely to develop problematic playing habits with excessive online gaming. This alone should be enough to convince gaming services to control access to their websites by implementing online age verification. In other instances, online gaming also involves online interaction with players from all over the world. Children can easily fall for a scam, offensive language and even bullying through such unfettered interactions. However, in a lot of countries, children are able to access gaming platforms with simply providing credit card details. Adequate verifying checks must be put in place, particularly for more aggressive or intense games.

  • Gambling

Online gambling has also garnered enough traction over the years. Studies have shown that over 50,000 children under the age of 17 have developed a gambling problem. This problem must be addressed by properly regulating online gambling services. While online betting might seem difficult to regulate, it is up to the platforms running these services to take measures to do so.

ID Veriification.

  • Weapons

With the amount of suggestive content available over the internet, anything nowadays can constitute as a weapon. It is extremely easy to influence children these days as they tend to have access to the internet and mobile devices at all times. Most of the responsibility falls on parental control, however, some of it must be taken up by businesses selling such merchandise. This is especially important after the case emerged of a 16-year-old buying a knife off of Amazon and using it to stab a schoolboy. Weapons and firearms must, therefore, be put a stringent check on to regulate their usage.

  • Dating Services

Online dating apps and websites are amongst those online services that have extremely unfettered access. This is particularly disturbing in the light of multiple cases of underage assault have emerged over the years. Both the victims as well as the assailants are found using services like Tinder and Grindr. Governments and regulators are becoming increasingly concerned about such online services, and are pushing owners to implement adequate age checks. It is extremely crucial for online dating services to realise their responsibility in eliminating the disturbing and harmful effects of underage usage of online dating services.

  • Adult Content

The effects of regulation of adult content online can be seen through the enactment of the digital economy act in the UK, which shall be enforced later this year. It requires age verification of users before the distribution and access to adult content.

Age Verification through Online ID Verification

It is evident from the discussion above that access to online goods and services cannot be restricted by mere parental controls. Online businesses must share some of the responsibility in regulating their goods or services. While merchants are able to verify the age of their customers through IDs that are provided by them in person, online vendors find it particularly challenging to verify age online.

Fortunately enough, a SaaS KYC provider like Shufti Pro can offer foolproof age verification services for businesses. Remote verification can be made possible through online ID verification. Shufti Pro’s verification software allows businesses to verify their users through document verification and facial recognition online. Users can scan their ID document remotely through their smartphone or PC camera. The system looks for forged or tampered documents. Its OCR technology can extract data from documents instantly, thereby confirming the age of an individual through their DOB. The vendor can further ask the customer to perform a real-time facial recognition scan that corroborates the identity of the person with the photo provided in the ID. Shufti Pro is able to verify users within 30-60 seconds, allowing no hindrance to the purchase process of goods or services online.

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