Year in Review: We’re Ready for Biometric Proof of Age

Year in Review: We're Ready for Biometric Proof of Age

One set of responses to FindBiometrics’ Year in Review survey offers a glimpse at the potential in a perhaps under-explored application of biometric authentication: Proof of age.

Question 16 of the 2018 Year in Review asked respondents how much they agreed with this statement: “If given the option to use biometrics to pay for age-restricted substances such as alcohol or cannabis, I would.” A whopping 83 percent of respondents agreed, with 39 percent indicating that they “strongly agree”.

Year in Review: We're Ready for Biometric Proof of Age

And why not? As we have seen with mobile authentication systems like smartphone fingerprint scanners and Apple’s Face ID system, the convenience of biometric authentication is often readily embraced by consumers. The catch when it comes to retail age verification is that there just isn’t the infrastructure in place to make biometric verification a reality on a large scale – not yet.

But certain pioneers are starting to blaze a trail. Yoti, for example, has developed a mobile ID system revolving around selfie-based facial recognition and document reading, and has found success in pilot projects trialing the technology in retail stores for exactly this purpose – confirming that shoppers are old enough to buy things like alcohol and cigarettes. Other approaches are also in play: Sthaler, for example, has been trialing a system that links users’ unique vein pattern biometrics directly to their payment accounts, allowing them to make purchases without the need for a physical payment card. It isn’t hard to imagine such a system being used to confirm a consumers’ age at the same time.

All of this is experimental, and mass adoption is probably a ways off. But it points to a future in which consumers will indeed be able to use biometrics for proof of age – a very welcome future, in that respect, for the biometrics industry insiders who responded to FindBiometrics’ latest Year in Review survey.

January 21, 2019 – by Alex Perala