UK supermarkets could soon use facial recognition age verification when purchasing age-restricted items such as alcohol and cigarettes at self-service checkouts.

NCR, which provides self-checkout technology, has announced that it will integrate digital ID provider Yoti’s automated platform into its checkout solutions.

An in-built camera will determine whether the customer is over the minimum age threshold, which is set by the retailer.

Customers can also add their ID documents and biometrics to the Yoti app and scan a QR code on the self-checkout screen.

It is hoped the technology will reduce hold ups at self-checkouts, 50% of which are caused by age verification interventions.

“Removing the friction of the shopping experience is a primary goal of all our innovations,” said Dusty Lutz, vice president and general manager of the NCR Store Transformation Solutions Group.

“Integrating the Yoti technology will help reduce the amount of interventions for retailers, and at the same time, help improve the customer experience of self-checkouts.”

Facial recognition age verification will speed up waiting times

UK and US retailers are expected to trial the facial recognition technology in the coming months.

NCR self-service checkouts are in supermarkets across the UK, including Tescos, Morrisons and Asda. However, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson told the Telegraph that it will not be trialling the technology.

Robin Tombs, CEO and co-founder of Yoti, said:

“Waiting for age approval at self-checkouts is a source of frustration for many shoppers, who just want to get home as quickly as possible. Our integration with NCR delivers a frictionless and innovative way for customers to prove their age in seconds.

It’s a simple process that helps retailers meet the requirements of regulators worldwide. Customers will spend less time at the self-checkout, and employees can assist with other tasks, improving the overall shopping experience.”

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In keeping with data privacy, images of customers are deleted permanently after their age is verified and they are not identifiable in any way.

However, it is unclear if the facial recognition age verification could be fooled by an older looking friend standing in front of the camera, or if there is a margin for error in the facial recognition software.

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