Online businesses must legally sell certain products to specific age-appropriate people only. Access is strictly granted to adults, whether a physical product like alcohol or a digital one like an online game.
For example, the minimum drinking age is 21 years in the US. As a vendor, you may be liable for damages if a teen causes an accident from alcohol from your store. You could request a customer ID for verification if it were a physical store.
Unfortunately, most online stores only require one to key their birth date as part of the onboarding process. Resourceful kids can easily bypass just by keying a birth date that will show they are 21 years old and above.
Those with access to their parents’ or older friends’ credit cards can shop and use them to buy almost anything on the internet. As such, collectively, we should prevent our kids from accessing online stores to purchase or access harmful substances and services beyond their age group.
Some online stores resort to long and frustrating onboarding to deter kids from accessing their sites. However, remember you’re also ruining the user experience for people old enough to buy your products and services.
That’s where mobile age verification comes in. It has many practical use scenarios and benefits to virtually any online business that needs to confirm the age of people accessing their services. That include:
- Online gaming
- Online tobacco, cannabis, and e-cigarettes sales
- Online alcohol retail merchants
Limit Exposure of Minors to Online Gaming
There are calls for online gambling regulation, especially for minors below 18 or 21 years old, depending on the resident state. So, based on your state, your business should know which age is allowed to access your online gaming platform.
Additional regulations may exist if the online gaming platform doubles as a betting platform. As such, you must verify anyone accessing your site and grant access depending on the legal age limit in their resident state.
It can be overwhelming to have separate systems that verify whether a user is 18, 19, or 21+ year-olds and above.
You’ll need a seamless design that can address all the age limits. Most importantly, the age verification service must be responsive to mobile phones as most players also use their phones to play. So, you’ll have a better onboarding experience that caters to desktop and mobile users while protecting kids from accessing some restricted online games.
You need an auditable verification system to respond to law enforcement issues arising from your online gaming and users’ age.
Restricts Kids’ Access to Tobacco, Cannabis, and E-Cigarettes
There are also some age-restricted products like tobacco, cannabis, and e-cigarettes that can baldy influence minors. Different laws and age-limit restrictions govern businesses operating in this space.
However, like online gaming, resourceful kids can easily access these products from your online store. Research covering most EU countries shows a higher level of smoking led to 15 and 16-year-olds’ school absenteeism.
Here’s a summary of each sector and how mobile age verification can help you protect minors from drug influence:
US’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is now empowered to crack down on online sellers of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco devices. Through the Prevent All Cigarettes Trafficking (PACT) Act, the ATF can hold you liable for selling cigarettes to minors. As such, you must verify the age of the customer requesting tobacco to comply.
Some retailers now want buyers to take a picture of their driving license to confirm they are old enough to buy tobacco.
In the US and several countries, cannabis is legal for medicinal use. Some are also pushing for recreational use. But, not anyone can sell or buy marijuana in the US. In fact, marijuana distribution is highly regulated, and one must show an ID to sell or buy it.
For example, in Canada, delivery agents may require the buyers to show their ID if they look younger than 25 years old. In the US, the legal age varies between 18 and 21 years for medical and recreational use, respectively.
Selling marijuana to minors can get 3-7 years of jail time.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Like tobacco and cannabis, there is a rise in e-cigarette sales. In response, the US government has raised the legal age for buying e-cigarettes to 18-21, depending on the state.
So, you have different states with different age limits to access e-cigarettes, tobacco, and marijuana. For marijuana, you must also factor in the ounces you sell to a single customer daily. So, whether you’re selling marijuana, cigarettes, or vaping devices, your customers must have the legal requirements.
However, the proof of age requirement is not easy to implement by just requiring one to insert their birth dates. You must be sure that your buyers are either 18, 19, or 21 years and above based on their resident state.
Choose a verification system that can accommodate every user from each state automatically. Plus, ensure the personally identifiable information (PII) you collect is safe and secure. Note that any breach of such data can still further expose your business to fines associated with data regulations.
So, your age verification system should be highly secure. As a result, you’ll be restricting minors from using your store to buy regulated drugs and products. Also, you’ll be keeping users’ ID data safe and complying with various state and federal regulations.
Prevent Sale of Alcohol and Regulated Drugs to Kids
As mentioned earlier, you’re only allowed to sell alcohol to 21-year-olds and above in the US. Modern verification systems can prevent crafty minors from buying from your store and exposing you to a flurry of lawsuits.
Protect Minors and Avoid Fines Through Mobile Age Verification
Source: Sharon Selby
Online retail is an absolute convenience; we can’t live without it. As a merchant, your sales revenue expands as you can reach more customers. Unfortunately, if the customers are minors, it exposes you to regulatory risks besides affecting the kids’ academics and overall well-being.
Crafty and resourceful kids can bypass most crude age verification systems. You’ll need to choose a flexible, robust, and safer verification system. It should automatically verify and onboard users while factoring in different age requirements from each resident state.