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IMRG begins work on age verification standard

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Online retail trade association IMRG has formed a working party and laid out an action plan to establish an age verification standard.

“Online shopping is an international marketplace in which traditional forms of age verification do not work,” says IMRG. “A new age verification solution is required that is inclusive, widely available, easy and quick to use, cost efficient, provides a high degree of surety without blocking legitimate customers, and is capable of operating across national borders.”

The organisation points out that providers of consumer payment mechanisms, such as credit and debit cards, generally capture the information necessary to verify age but they currently don’t provide retailers with any means of qualifying their age-sensitive transactions against this information. “An obvious and inclusive solution to the problem would be for the payments industry to provide a verification service that bridges the gap,” says the body.

“While some progress has been made using the currently available tools, such as the several commercially available databases, none of these are ideal or comprehensive,” IMRG explains.

With this in mind, the group has formed an ‘Age Verification Online’ working party that has set itself a three-point action plan:

  1. Collectively address the area of age verification as a ‘non-competitive’ issue

  2. Seek and coordinate collaboration between relevant parties to formulate a universal Age Verification Standard and a cost effective solution

  3. Formulate and provide guidance on compliance with online age verification requirements for minors of any regulated age, for example for 5, 12, 15, 16 and 18-year-olds.

“IMRG welcomes the Government’s stated aims of financial and digital inclusion, but flags the outstanding need for usable mechanisms, such as age verification, that will enable retailers and parents to meet their social and legal responsibilities while at the same time protecting the rights of consumers to legitimately purchase products and services,” says the group.

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