Reducing opportunities for aggression and violence

How we prove our identity is broken

While many different areas of our lives are going digital, we’re still reliant on manual processes when it comes to proving our identity and our age. Physical ID documents can be lost or stolen with a reported 400,000 lost passports and almost one million driving licences misplaced in a single year in the UK. This places people at risk of identity theft and fraud – along with the costs of replacing the document. 

Additionally, the rising quality and accessibility of fake IDs makes it difficult for anyone without specialist training and equipment to accurately check an ID, especially when under pressure to make a decision quickly.

What has this to do with violent crime?

The rise in violent behaviour towards front line retail staff is of great concern to the industry, with age checking on restricted goods (such as alcohol and tobacco) being the second highest driver of violence against staff behind shoplifting.  Retailers in Scotland are so concerned that they are attempting to introduce legislation to make violence against retailers a specific crime.

What is Yoti?

Yoti is the new way to prove your age.  It takes minutes to set up and is free for the user who simply downloads the free app to their phone; takes a selfie then adds their government issued ID to complete the process. The individual now has a secure Yoti digital ID, verified with a government issued identity document and matched with their unique facial biometrics.

Thousands of retailers across the UK are now using Yoti to streamline, strengthen and improve the age verification processes by letting customers prove their age on their phone with Yoti by simply asking customers to scan a QR code to prove their age. The need to check physical documents is eliminated​ for all goods, bar alcohol.​  Yoti helps retailers tackle fake IDs since each identity document is verified for authenticity when the individual creates their Yoti. This is backed up by Assured Advice from the Association of Convenience Stores.

​The elimination of the human element in checking a physical ID document is a key part to ‘reducing friction’ between the customer and the retailer, thus reducing the potential for this friction to escalate into physical violence or threats of violence.

Retailers can also use Yoti AI (Age Scan powered by Yoti) to simplify and improve the age verification process at the self-checkout. Customers can either look into the self-checkout’s camera and Yoti’s Age Scan will estimate whether they’re old enough for the product they wish to buy.  This is currently accurate to an average of +/- 2 years and will improve as it learns over time.  Alternatively, they can use the Yoti app to scan a QR code on the self-checkout screen to share their verified age. Again, using technology as a ‘buffer’ between the customer and the retailer helps reduce the likelihood of confrontation since it’s the technology, not the person, making a judgement on age appropriateness, without personal favour or bias to individual customers. 

This technology is also being utilised to reduce harm in diverse areas such as online dating sites, classified ads, and social media platforms where increased trust around a person’s identity or age can help keep people safe both online and offline.

This case study was contributed as part of techUK’s Digitally enabled public safety report: Harnessing the power of tech to tackle violent crime. You can access the full report here.

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