Bestway Retail convenience stores in Southampton, UK, have installed facial biometric-based age estimation software and hardware designed to anonymize customer information. Supplier Innovative Technology’s system, MyCheckr, has been tested by similar UK budget retail chains Costcutter and Bargain Booze, as well as by the UK government.
According to Chris Wright, Innovative’s U.K. business development manager, the device displays a red light if a customer appears to be underage, followed by manual identification verification. innovative charges per device and the verification operation is free. wright said the dense student population of Southampton makes the age verification tool particularly useful, according to the U.K. trade The publication Retail Technology Innovation Hub reports.
In the U.K., the legal age to purchase e-cigarettes is 18, and sales to minors can face a £2,500 ($3,194) fine. in October 2022, the owner of an e-cigarette store in Walsall, England, was fined more than £2,000 ($2,555).
In Europe, the Bilka supermarket in Kolding, Denmark, piloted ID provider Yoti’s facial recognition-based age estimation at self-checkout counters in March.
A survey by Legal Serve, cited by Innovative in a blog post, found that 70 percent of respondents buy e-cigarettes from corner stores and convenience stores.
There may be a basis for why UK stores restrict manual identification. A report by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) found that identification is a major trigger for violence.
In light of this, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) wants to introduce legislation that would allow the use of facial recognition technology for identity verification for alcohol sales.