Why Your Business Needs a Strong Age Verification System

Age verification systems are used to grant users access to age-restricted online content, services, and products. They’re the digital equivalent of presenting your physical ID card in a store.

With the rise of online shopping, it is more critical than ever to securely verify a customer’s age before letting them access certain products. Not having a secure age verification in place might let underage consumers exploit the system and gain illegal access to age-restricted products.

3 reasons why an age verification system is important

There are three main reasons why businesses need secure age verification systems:

  1. Ensure compliance: Age verification is necessary to stay compliant with national regulations and avoid fines.
  2. Prevent fraud: A strong age verification process helps businesses protect users from identity fraud, providing access only to verified individuals.
  3. Prohibit minors from accessing age-restricted products: Businesses have a social responsibility to prevent underage consumers from accessing age-restricted products through their platform. Failure to do so can hurt your brand and undermine customer trust.

Age verification systems

There are several different ways to verify your age online.

Self declaration

This method requires users to input or declare their age or date of birth. It is commonly employed on social media platforms or websites that sell age-restricted products. Self declaration is accessible to all users as it only requires their active participation.

It relies solely on the user's honesty and does not verify whether the information is accurate. Therefore, users can easily misrepresent their age during the self-declaration process, making this method insecure for age verification purposes

Credit card

Age verification with a credit card aims to prevent users under the age of 18 from accessing age-restricted content or products. However, this method may exclude users who do not own credit cards. Additionally, minors can easily avoid this restriction by using an adult's card.

Physical document verification

Some services might request users to verify their age by uploading and scanning government issued physical IDs like passports or driver's license. These IDs include the date of birth, but uploading and scanning the document can be a tedious process.

Electronic identities

National electronic identities (eIDs) are the equivalent to physical forms of IDs. Age verification through eIDs is the safest and easiest option. eIDs let companies securely confirm a person’s identity and always include the date of birth.

They are a trusted verification system used by both public and private organizations across Europe to give users access to age restricted content or products online.

How age verification through electronic identities work

In the case of most eIDs, users initiate the verification process, confirm their identity via a personal PIN or biometric authentication, and are seamlessly verified without ever having to actively input their date of birth.

For example in Sweden, the safest way to verify someone's age online is through Swedish BankID. The security and adoption of BankID is high, which allows users to easily verify their age and for businesses to stay compliant.

What are the benefits of age verification through eIDs?

Here are three business benefits of using eIDs for secure age verification:

  1. Increased security: With eIDs, companies can be 100% sure of the individual’s identity and age. As such, eIDs help organizations increase the level of security and ensure compliance.
  2. Frictionless verification: Consumers are already used to relying on their eIDs to log in to governmental services, insurance providers, bank accounts, and private organizations. This makes the process familiar, simple, and frictionless.
  3. Ensures trust: Using this recognizable verification method helps customers trust the entire process.They feel safe and become less likely to drop off.

Which businesses need age verification?

Any business that sells, delivers, or provides age-restricted products can benefit from using an eID-based age verification system.

One such business is delivery services. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, delivery services have grown (and continue to grow) significantly. This rise in food, beverage, other home goods deliveries make careful customer verification more critical.

Two companies that have successfully adopted age verification through eIDs are foodora and Aviant. They both leverage BankID in Norway to efficiently deliver age-restricted products to their customers.

Learn more about age verification for delivery services >

Age verification processes and regulations in Europe

The age verification processes and regulations differ from country to country, as well as by industry. Here's a short overview of a few European countries and their age verification processes in a selection of industries.

Denmark

Alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine: In Denmark, a new law was passed on June 4 2024, requiring retailers selling alcohol, tobacco, or nicotine products online to verify the ages of their consumers during the point of purchase. Before the law was passed, a simple yes/no button for the user to confirm that they were above the legal age was sufficient.

Businesses can either choose to implement a system for scanning a physical ID or to integrate MitID verification. To maintain a frictionless user experience, businesses can benefit the most from MitID as a majority of Danes have it, know how to use it, and can verify their age faster than scanning physical IDs.

With Criipto, age verification is possible through MitID Age check, which only indicates wether a person is above or below the legal age.

OTC medicine: Platforms that sell Over-the-counter (OTC) medicine must ensure the consumer is old enough. This definition doesn't clarify how the age is ensured. Many online pharmacies utilize MitID for age verification, whereas others have a simple checkbox to confirm your age.

Gambling and online betting: The gambling industry is highly regulated in Denmark. All users who want to create an account on an online betting site must verify with MitID. This securely verifies both the user's age and identity. 

Sweden

Alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine: In Sweden, online age verification must be as secure as physical age verification. Businesses that sell alcohol, tobacco, or nicotine products online must be able to verify the consumer's exact age, which is often done through Swedish BankID.

OTC medicine: Businesses that sell OTC medicine online are responsible for ensuring that age checks are performed at the point of purchase. According to the Swedish Medical Products Agency (Läkemedelsverket), eIDs like BankID is a secure way to verify your age.

Norway

Alcohol: Norwegian law states that it's illegal to sell alcohol to anyone below the age of 18, and the rule applies to both online and brick-and-mortar store purchases. There are no specific requirements for how this should be done, but Norwegian BankID is commonly used as it securely verifies the age of the customer.

OTC medicine: Online pharmacies and retailers must verify their customers' ages with a digital identity. Therefore, BankID is most commonly used.

Finland

Alcohol: There's currently a proposal to allow businesses to sell alcohol online in Finland. In the near future, Finnish citizens will be able to purchase alcohol online as long as there's a secure age verification process at the point of purchase and the point of delivery.

The Finnish Bank IDs and Mobiilivarmenne with the Finnish Trust Network (FTN) are secure and widely used eIDs. This makes them the most optimal methods for performing age verification online to stay compliant with future regulations.

Future outlook on age verification in Europe

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is a recent EU law aimed at ensuring a safer digital environment by regulating online platforms and digital services.

Starting February 17, 2024, the DSA applies to all digital platforms operating within the EU. A specific section of the act is dedicated to protecting children online, partly through digital age verification.

Stricter age verification in Europe can help protect minors from issues such as harmful content, targeted ads on social media, and access to age-restricted products like alcohol and tobacco.

However, introducing online age verification presents certain challenges, such as deciding on approved age verification systems and preserving the privacy of children.

Learn more about the Digital Services Act and protecting children online.

Age verification through Criipto

Criipto helps businesses integrate eIDs securely and efficiently when they need to implement age verification in their system.

Talk to an expert or sign up today.

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