How to use age verification technology in hospitality

Age verification technology

Age verification technology is something that hospitality businesses can benefit enormously from. But how does age verification technology work, what are the benefits for hospitality businesses and how can you implement it into your business model? Modern Hospitality spoke with John Abbott, Chief Business Officer of Yoti to gain a deeper understanding of age verification technology.

1. What is digital age verification and how does it work?

Digital age verification technology (AV) is a modern solution to the age-old problems presented by traditional ID documents and the outdated processes that accompany them. Digital AV allows businesses to check their customer’s age online and in person, providing greater assurance that people are who they say they are and that they are of the required age for any age-restricted purchase or access requirement.

Yoti’s digital AV solutions unlock opportunities for hospitality providers with increased efficiency, reduced friction and the frustrations brought when staff have to query age related transactions and of course, the prevention of underage sales. Yoti offers a broad range of solutions online via the Yoti age portal, but I’ll focus here on two of our services that will be going live at the self-checkout points of supermarkets this summer. 

Using the free Yoti ID app, customers can verify their identity and demonstrate proof of age. The app is privacy preserving, with customers only sharing a verified date of birth and no other personal details when proving their age. Their digital ID is verified using a government-approved photo ID and secured using their biometrics to prevent fraud and account swaps – protecting customers and businesses. Yoti verifies ID documents from over 195 countries, meaning we do the heavy lifting on checks for people all over the world so that staff don’t have to worry.

Yoti also offers age estimation via facial analysis. To be clear, it’s not facial recognition because it does not identify people in any way. It’s always consent driven – you opt to use it. Customers present their faces in front of a camera and the system estimates their age. It has been designed with data privacy and security at its core. People do not have to register to use the service and do not have to provide any information about themselves. After the age estimate is performed, the captured image is deleted. The images are not stored, not re-shared, not re-used and not sold on. It’s accurate to within 1.5 years in the key 13-24 age bracket, therefore operators can use age thresholds, such as challenge 25 for 18+ environments and be confident that those underage don’t get through. It’s the fastest and easiest way to prove age. 

2. How can hospitality providers benefit from using this technology 

Following in the footsteps of digital payments, we believe digital AV will revolutionise hospitality efficiency and reduce pressure on staff who are facing rises in high-quality fake IDs. Relying on Human Challenge 25 simply isn’t good enough. There’s a need for a better system to protect children and of course, businesses from prosecution. It’s about making a responsible sales commitment. 

Human age estimation rates sit at around 4.7 years of accuracy, our technology is within 1.5. This has serious implications for those who rely on Challenge 25 as the threshold to ensure alcohol isn’t sold to those under 18.

Age verification technology on phone

3. Tell us more about how this can benefit customers that do not have photo ID?

Customers want speed, flexibility and high-value services that complement their hospitality experience. By using the Yoti ID app, they don’t need to carry important identity documents (e.g. passports or drivers licences) on them, one less thing to risk losing and having to replace. 

The ability to prove your age with age estimation means that we can tackle social exclusion and open up a greater range of quality experiences for customers from all walks of life. It’s sad to know that 24% of UK adults don’t have access to photo ID and we can help.

Ultimately, if Yoti saves customers just seconds on every visit with age restricted goods, that adds up to a lot of time over the course of a day, week, month and the years. It can also save hospitality providers time and reduce pressure on staff, who are freed up to perform higher-value jobs that enhance the customer experience.

4. What does the future hold for age verification technology in hospitality? 

While the technology is ready today – we need to close the gap with regulation and education with policymakers before we achieve our goal of seeing digital AV at every venue around the world. Here in the UK, the Home Office has launched the Age-verification-technology-in-alcohol-sales-regulatory-sandbox and Yoti is a prominent solution with leading UK retailers, starting this summer, which will really help move the dial here and beyond.

On top of that, we are pushing hard to create the network effect that joins the dots and utility around digital AV with many different walks of life and businesses. We are building a trusted network through our unique partnership with Post Office in the UK, giving people more places to use their digital ID and reasons to join the digital identity revolution. It will only be a matter of time that more people, businesses and regulations get to try it and realise that it’s a faster, safer and simpler way to prove age for everyone. 

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