Meet the company: AgeChecked
We speak to Alastair Graham, Founder and CEO of AgeChecked, to find out how you can perform online age checks and ensure you comply with Home Office guidance.
Many retailers offer products which are subject to age verification checks, on the high street it’s a daily occurrence to see ‘Challenge 25’ posters with the message that if you look under 25 you’ll be asked to prove you are 18 or older before completing a purchase. But what do we do on the internet? Simply having a check box to confirm you are 18 or older isn’t sufficient but thankfully people like Alastair specialise in solving this problem so read on to discover how you can age check your customer in the online world:
Who are AgeChecked?
AgeChecked is a provider of secure and anonymised age verification services, working with online retailers to ensure that they meet the ever-changing compliance regulations when selling age-restricted items such as alcohol, tobacco & e-cigarettes, knives, etc. As part of the UK’s emerging SafetyTech sector, AgeChecked has long been a leader and innovator in this growing regulatory landscape.
What do you do?
We offer a range of solutions to suit any size business from simple age verification to full KYC and AML services, which are often required in other industry sectors. Depending upon the need of the retailer, their size and product offering, we have a range of options from simple batch upload, whereby retailers simply upload a CSV file of customers to verify, to a full API integration which enables us to do an age verification check at the point of sale. Our primary objective is to help a retailer stay compliant to the regulations, protecting their business from the risks of selling to minors.
Why is there a need for AgeChecked’s services?
UK law is clear that selling age-restricted items to anyone under the age of 18 is illegal. Online stores therefore need to ensure that they are verifying the age of their customers before completing a sale or delivery.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic we have noticed a huge increase in the number of retailers who have put their products on sale online, including many which require age checks such as alcohol, knives, lighter fuel, glue, aerosols and e-cigarettes/vaping products. Many have not yet implemented even the most basic of age checks when official advice is to apply age verification that meets the latest BSI standard (PAS1296) for effective age verification.
To avoid the risk of enforcement measures, retailers need to ensure that they have taken all reasonable steps to verify a customer’s age and that they are over the legal age to purchase the goods. Simply having a “I am 18+” tick box to verify their age is not enough any longer. The Home Office states that anyone selling age-restricted items online should already be taking “all reasonable steps to verify the customer’s age at the point of sale in order to avoid committing an offence of selling to a child”. It is likely that trading standards will give new online retailers a short grace period given the unprecedented circumstances that COVID-19 has forced us into. However, we would anticipate that authorities will apply the same level of rigour to their enforcement against illegal underage sales online as they do on the high street.
How does it work?
AgeChecked offers a range of solutions for a retailer to use in order to age verify their customers, depending on the size of the business or the technical resources they have. Once onboarded, clients are able to use our .csv Batch Upload, API integration, Consumer Gateway, OCR ID scanning solutions. For retailers operating outside of the UK, we have the iDIN age check for Dutch customers or Schufa to age verify in Germany. All checks can be done swiftly with a single check
Age checks do not necessarily result in a ‘pass or fail’. Once a customer has been verified, the retailer will be able to see which have passed and which have not. Any customers who have not passed verification can be offered alternative methods to verify their age. This direct interaction with the customer can often result in more positive results, raising the match rate significantly higher than a simple pass or fail process.
We try to ensure that we are offering the highest possible match rate on all customers as we understand that every check is not only potential sale, but a potential long-term customer.
How can you help SMEs?
We understand that for smaller businesses, every penny counts especially on low cost products. We have made sure that the cost of age checks, when only a handful may be needed each week, is still affordable for the retailer. We strive to offer a low cost, affordable solution to many SME businesses whilst still delivering a high quality, compliant solution.
We do not charge set up fees, which is often a barrier to putting a verification service in place when the number of monthly transactions is still low. Customers can download the application for free and start working with AgeChecked for the price of the checks.
What sets AgeChecked apart from competitors?
One of the unique selling points is that the AgeChecked operates a Trading Standards Coordinated Partnership Scheme. This means that the platform, and the retailers that use the service and follow the scheme, are covered by Assured Advice from our Primary Authority. Retailers’ licensing authorities will understand they are complying with the law on age verification, and neither inspect nor take enforcement action against them, as this is entrusted to our Primary Authority.
Another key differentiator is that AgeChecked does not charge for returning customers to a client website. Once a customer has been verified once, that retailer will not be charged if the customer returns to purchase again. Put another way, we verify the customer not the sale – so reoccurring purchases do not incur age verification costs every time an age-restricted product is purchased from a repeat customer. This leads to huge cost savings over time
Our anonymised approach to data is a major factor in why many retailers use AgeChecked. AgeChecked does not store, hold or share any personal details on any individuals that we have verified. There is no risk of our clients’ customer bases being hacked or misused, because we do hold that information.
Finally, we offer a higher range of data sets to verify information against. This ensures that we always offer a high match rate for new customers being verified, meaning more new paying customers for our clients.
How do I get started?
To find out more how AgeChecked can help your business, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] where one of our dedicated sales team can discuss your business requirements and which solution would work best for you. Alternatively, please feel free to check out our website agechecked.com