The retail industry has expressed support for the introduction of digital proof of age for age-restricted purchases in stores.

According to the results of a consultation commissioned by the government and undertaken by The Board of the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS), retailers and industry bodies support plans to accept physically presented digital ID cards, using a new platform called the Retail Validation Interface (RVI), accessed through a free retail app.

More than 250 organisations including leading supermarkets and trade groups submitted evidence, with most endorsing a universal tool to encourage widespread use.

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Retailers agreed stores should not be expected to foot the bill for any training or investment needed to run the scheme. It was also agreed that for the scheme to succeed, near-universal acceptance in stores would be needed.

Challenges highlighted included potential fake digital IDs, poor internet access, low tech literacy and the potential for age checks to lead to abuse against shop workers. “It is often retail colleagues who are at the front line of enforcing age restrictions, which can serve as a trigger point for physical and verbal abuse,” the consultation summary said.

Tools already exist for stores to accept digital age verification on all products except alcohol. The rollout of the new service, yet to be confirmed, would also cover alcohol.

Responsible retailing – Academy in Action 2020