Bestway has claimed the first pilot of a new age verification technology among the convenience channel.
The wholesaler has partnered with Innovative Technology on the regulatory ’sandbox’ trial, which enables businesses to test new approaches in real-world situations to gain a better understanding of the implications. It is part of a Home Office programme.
It will run until May across three Bestway Retail stores in Leeds. These are: Bargain Booze in Otley, Wine Rack in Roundhay, and Tippl in Garforth.
The ICU technology aims to strengthen current measures in place to prevent those under 18 from buying alcohol and tobacco products, while ensuring there are robust age checks on the delivery, click & collect or dispatch of alcohol.
It also hopes to reduce crime against shopworkers with refusal of sale being a key trigger of abuse.
“We’re proud to be pioneering the use of age verification technology in our drinks-led specialist stores,” said Bestway Wholesale retail director Mike Hollis. “Staff abuse is rife in the convenience channel, and when we surveyed staff in our three participating stores, the responses received showed that staff abuse, particularly when it comes to the refusal to sell alcohol, is a significant issue.
“All participants agreed that using technology could reduce staff abuse and we believe that using the ICU screen will act as a deterrent when it comes to staff abuse. It will also give retailers peace of mind and ensure that they avoid prosecutions, fines, or losing their license for the miss-sale of alcohol or tobacco products.”
Innovative Technology ICU product manager Andrew O’Brien added: “We are delighted to be accepted into the UK government sandbox scheme and see all our hard work undertaken over the past few months come to fruition.
“Our team have liaised with local licensing authorities, local police officers and local councils to ensure our solution is safe, legal and meets the criteria of the scheme. ICU age verification technology will now be piloted in several Bestway Retail stores in Yorkshire, and we will closely monitor our test sites to ensure we support the retailers’ and collate the relevant data throughout the trial.”
The ICU technology has specially trained algorithms that can detect photographs and videos of fraud attempts. It takes place in the background so it doesn’t affect the user experience.
It also doesn’t require internet access and scans a face offline in seconds. The technology is fully GDPR compliant, as once the face scan is processed, all related data to that subject is permanently deleted.
The ICU verification technology can be installed alongside point of sale with the screen facing the customer and the screening outcome visible to staff. Once a customer is scanned, the screen will flash green if above 25 or red if 25 or under, alerting staff that further age verification is required.