Managing age-restricted purchases using decentralized identity and verifiable credentials is a simple, reliable way to provide a faster checkout experience while preventing illegal transactions.

By Tim Spring

All around the United States this week people will be gathering to celebrate the national July 4th holiday with (hopefully) contained explosions.

The purchase of fireworks is controlled at the state level, meaning that it can vary from state to state, but generally requires the customer to be 18 years or older. Which is why many teenagers looking to celebrate with their friends will be trying to work around these restrictions, and some will resort to fraudulent IDs.

This gives us a great framework to explore how to manage age verification with verifiable credentials.

Point-of-sale age verification is something that most people experience throughout their lifetime; usually, it takes a few seconds and requires a driver’s license and an interaction with a clerk or salesperson to purchase the requested item. This can be time consuming if a clerk is not readily available or even if the clerk is and there’s a long line. If fake IDs were always easy to spot at a glance, this wouldn’t be a problem; but they aren’t, and people are fallible, especially under pressure. 

A verifiable credential is a digital credential held in a wallet app on a mobile device. The information in the credential can be verified as to its source and its integrity — whether it has been altered. 

Any verifiable credential that contains a claim about age, such as a date of birth, can be instantly checked for its source — is it a valid student ID, a driver’s license or a passport — and its integrity.  Some credentials will be able to present age in the form of a zero-knowledge proof, meaning that age can be verified without revealing the actual age. The result is seamless, instant, and reliable age verification. 

In the age of self-checkout, being able to present a secure credential that a machine can verify removes the annoyance of waiting for an employee to be available to help you. It also allows you to share only your age with the verifying party, rather than other information on your driver’s license such as address, full name, height, weight, etc.

As the world moves more digital customers expect fast, convenient interactions. Decentralized identity and verifiable credentials provide the perfect way to both speed up these mundane processes — providing a better experience for your customers, while allowing you to see more of them — and also reduce your liability of mistakenly letting a fraudulent ID make a purchase.

Happy holidays from all of us at Indicio! We hope everyone is safe on the 4th, and if you have any questions about how decentralized identity can improve efficiency for your organization please don’t hesitate to contact our team.


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