UK retailer uses ITL biometrics to verify age as teen vaping risks pile up
A Bestway Retail convenience store in the city of Southampton has installed facial biometrics-based age estimation software and hardware designed to anonymize customers.
The vendor, Innovative Technology, has had it system, MyCheckr, tested by similar UK budget retail chains such as Costcutter and Bargain Booze and by the United Kingdom government.
According to Chris Wright, UK business development manager at Innovative, a red LED shows on the device if a customer appears underage. A manual ID check follows an underage decision.
Innovative charges by the device with no cost for verifications performed. Wright said, the high density of students in Southampton, make age verification tools particularly useful, according to UK trade publication Retail Technology Innovation Hub.
The legal age to purchase vapes is 18 in the UK and selling to underage consumers can result in a £2,500 fine (US$3,194). In October 2022, the owner of a vape shop in Walsall, England, was fined over £2,000 ($2,555).
In Europe, a Bilka hypermarket in Kolding, Denmark, is trialing ID vendor Yoti’s facial recognition-based age estimation at its self-checkout kiosks in March.
A survey by Legal Serve referred to in a blog posted by Innovative found 70 percent of respondents purchased their vapes from corner shops and convenience stores.
UK shops may have reason to limit manual IDs checks. A report by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) found ID checks are a leading trigger for violence.
Noting this, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) wants legislation allowing the use facial recognition for identity verification for alcohol sales.